Argos coach won't hesitate to turn to Bell

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:45 PM ET

TORONTO - Dalton Bell might not want to let his mind wander on Saturday afternoon at Mosaic Stadium in Regina.

Argonauts head coach Jim Barker confirmed after practice on Thursday that Cleo Lemon has recovered sufficiently from a concussion to reclaim his role as the Toronto's starting quarterback, but Barker hinted broadly that he won't hesitate to turn to Bell if Lemon falters against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

"If (Lemon) struggles, then we have Dalton who has been there and understands Mosaic and the whole deal there," Barker said.

"What Dalton did was he established himself as a guy who our players believe in, and if we are not moving the ball with one quarterback, we can go to the other quarterback. That's a good situation to be in."

The Argos (6-7) aren't facing a must-win game versus the Roughriders (9-4), but Barker could loosen his collar a bit with a victory. The B.C. Lions and Edmonton Eskimos are off life support in the West Division and a cross-over playoff berth in the East could be for the taking if the Argos and Hamilton Tiger-Cats don't start winning games.

Bell didn't set the world on fire during his first Canadian Football League start last weekend, when he completed 16 of 24 passes for 153 yards against the Roughriders, the team that traded him to Toronto during the off-season. But Bell didn't crack either, and demonstrated that he has the potential to be useful if Barker sees fit to call his name.

If nothing else, Barker now knows that Bell can be summoned for snaps for times other than when Lemon gets hurt. Barker couldn't know as much until he observed Bell in a start.

Bell will remain idle if Lemon, with a dozen CFL starts on his resume, manages to get untracked against a Roughriders defence that usually features more surprises than a magician at a kid's birthday party.

All that was keeping Lemon from getting the green light was a final meeting on Thursday afternoon with doctors, but Lemon has been taking first-team reps at practice all week, and has not had any lingering concussion symptoms.

While the Argos will throw a different quarterback at the Riders, Darian Durant will once again be behind centre against Toronto.

Durant made it through practice on Thursday with a sore leg but it won't keep him from starting.

Lemon has shown at times that he can lead the Argos down the field. It's finishing that has been a problem, and the Argos' touchdown rate in the red zone is less than 50%.

With Lemon back in and running back Cory Boyd ready to play in his second game after missing two with a concussion, each vital member of the offence finally is healthy.

"Cleo looks a little fresh, and maybe sitting out and watching a game will help him in his understanding," Barker said.

"Cleo is our starting quarterback, and he is expected to move the team. You never know what goes into why a guy struggles. It could be confusion with what he is seeing or whatever, and if that is the case, then you look to make a change."

Watching a full game in civilian clothes might have helped Lemon.

"I wanted to be out there so bad," Lemon said.

"But when you are forced to watch, you look at it from a different perspective, and seeing how the guys battled throughout the whole game, it made me appreciate them more. Just to see them fight, I think it was nothing but positive."

For his part, Bell was resigned to his backup status.

"Back to the usual, but it has been a good week," Bell said.

"It's good to see Cleo is healthy, and I'm glad his head is better. Getting back in the groove of playing "¶ it just helped me to get those reps."


Videos

Photos