Lemon: 'I'm preparing to play'

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:59 AM ET

TORONTO - Cleo Lemon is No. 1 again.

Lemon was back on the practice field yesterday and expects to play this weekend when the Argonauts visit the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

“I want to play. That’s the plan and I’m preparing to play. If the week continues to go the way it started out I think that’s what will happen,” said Lemon, who sat out the Argos’ loss to the Roughriders last Saturday.

Lemon, who had concussion symptoms, had sat out a week and watched practice from behind sunglasses as Dalton Bell took his spot. However, doctors have given him clearance to return to the field.

“Starting out I didn’t feel too good last week but after the first day (of practicing) I feel pretty good. Once you get past ... dealing with the headaches ... that’s when you feel comfortable getting back on the field.

Lemon has had a modicum of success in his first CFL season, but the offence ranks last in the league. He has been hampered by having receivers Jeremaine Copeland and Reggie McNeal in — but mostly out — of the lineup with injuries. The offensive line has been in flux. Head coach Jim Barker insists he has all the tools to be succesful in the CFL once he finds his comfort zone.

“What he doesn’t have yet is the feeling of what his receivers are going to be doing because we’ve had to change and not have the same group. Cory (Boyd, the club’s top ball-carrier) was out ... all that effects a quarterback,” said Barker.

Lemon is on a learning curve that all successful quarterbacks must navigate, Barker said. So, where is Lemon on that curve?

“The game will slow down for him; the ball will come out quicker, he’ll throw the ball before guys make their break. He’s just always a hair late. A lot of that is just a function of learning what you’re doing. When you watch Anthony Calvillo, Henry Burris and Darian Durant now, the ball comes out on time. That’s what (Lemon) has to get to; a point where he’s comfortable a receiver is going to do what he’s supposed to do.”

In other words, this team and in particular Lemon need to get familiar. That doesn’t happen in 13 games, overnight, or in even one season. “What you want is to get the same players playing; that’s what they have in Montreal, that’s what they have in Calgary, the same guys playing every week,” Barker said. “Henry gets used to how those guys break and Durant has had the same guys now for three years so he knows when Andy Fantuz is going to make a break.”

Lemon and the receiving corps simply haven’t developed that instinct.

“It just takes time,” Barker said. “It takes patience and those are the things we’re going through right now.”

Lemon said he’s feeling more comfortable, physically and with the system. Twelve games into his CFL career, he admits it has been a challenge. New team. New city. New game. “I was coming into an unknown situation, learning the system; It’s like trying to learn to ride a bike all over.”

And, everyone knows, trying to do that doesn’t come without its bumps and bruises.


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