Barker refuses to budge

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:53 AM ET

TORONTO - Even the mention of Cleo Lemon perhaps taking a week off to see how the Argos offence operates under someone else brings out the mother bear in Jim Barker.

The Argos head coach, even with his starting quarterback doubtful for the weekend having suffered a concussion last weekend in a loss to the Edmonton Eskimos, refuses to publicly entertain the thought that a change might be a good thing.

As far as Barker is concerned the only way there is going to be a change at the starting quarterback position will be if Lemon is physically unable to answer the bell.

"If Cleo is 100% and can practise and go, Cleo is our starting quarterback," Barker said Tuesday. "He had a bad game. He threw interceptions. We turned the ball over seven times. You're never going to win when you have seven turnovers."

And not even Barker can deny Lemon at least shares some of the responsibility for those turnovers.

"I thought offensively we moved the ball well but then we would get down close, not convert and turn the ball over," he said of the loss to Edmonton in Moncton. "Instead of getting field goals, we are turning the ball over."

Dalton Bell, who is expected to run the offence this week-e nd in Lemon's absence hasn't had a chance to show what he could do with this offence for any length of time since the pre-season. And as protective as Barker is of Lemon, he said he has no reservations about putting Bell in should Lemon not be able to answer the call.

"If there's anyone who knows Saskatchewan, it's Dalton Bell," Barker said. "He has run their scout offence for a couple of years. That's a huge advantage for him. Dalton is a guy we brought here because we thought he could be a starting QB. If this is the week he gets his opportunity, we'll see where he's at."

Both Bell and Barker know very well, Bell's chances of success go up substantially if Cory Boyd, who sat out the past two games after suffering his third concussion of the season, returns this week.

"You have to respect the run a little bit more when Cory is in there," Bell said. "He's such a dominant runner and a great pass blocker too."

Boyd was in Austell, Ga., yesterday attending the funeral of Denver Broncos receiver Kenny McKinley, who apparently committed suicide last week. Boyd was expected back Tuesday night. Barker said more tests would be required before Boyd was cleared to play.

If Bell does get the nod, he won't be the only one taking a step up the depth chart.

Queen's alumnus Danny Brannagan, who has spent the year on the practice roster, would dress for Saturday's game as the third quarterback behind Bell and Ken Dorsey, if Lemon can't go.

"Danny got some reps today so he is going to be expected to perform if he is called on," Barker said.


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