Smalls: Argos are 'like a family'

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:02 AM ET

TORONTO -- If part of Jim Barker's mandate in his first season of his second tenure as Argonauts head coach was to instill mutual respect among the players, consider it done.

Running back Dwayne Wright spoke a few weeks ago of how he was relatively surprised that he was welcomed with such open arms by his new Argos teammates. Cornerback Sean Smalls, who was signed to the practice roster a month ago and started in the final regular season game, said the same thing on Thursday.

"It's different than in the U.S.," said Smalls, who played at the University of Massachusetts from 200508 and has had try-outs with several NFL clubs. "Everybody is together here, like a big family. You don't find people (in the U.S.) who are so down to earth, who want to help you, get to know you. I would love to come back next year."

Smalls filled in admirably for the injured Willie Middlebrooks on the boundary corner against Montreal, and he might start in the East semifinal. That depends on whether Michael Grant returns from an injury in time.

Either way, Smalls, who was named after actor Sean Connery by his grandmother, has made a positive first impression on Barker.

"He has come in and paid attention from the time he got here, and when he got a chance to play, he played very calmly," Barker said.

Meanwhile, Barker said that Bryan Crawford, who led the CFL with 27 special-teams tackles during the regular season, is "a long shot" to play against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Ivor Wynne as he recovers from an adductor problem. Jeff Johnson, another valuable Canadian special teams player, practised on Thursday and should return from a hamstring issue.


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