EDMONTON - The Toronto Argonauts have a pivotal decision to make in training camp this year.
With five quarterbacks already signed and a sixth possibly on the way, head coach Jim Barker said the starting job is up for grabs.
“We traded for Steven Jyles to create the competition at the quarterback position, to help our offence, which obviously last year was not good enough and this year will be much improved,” said Barker, who is also putting returning quarterbacks Cleo Lemon, Dalton Bell and CIS product Danny Brannagan in the same boat, along with rookie import Matt Grothe and possibly B.J. Hall. “We’ll see how many of those make it through after the rookie camp.”
One thing is certain, the Argos will be more experienced at quarterback in 2011.
“Last year, we had quarterbacks with no experience in the league,” said Barker. “This year, Steven Jyles has four years of experience and had a chance to start 10 games last year. Cleo Lemon got 16 games as a starter in the league and Dalton Bell started two games in our system.
“So we’ve got three quarterbacks who are now experienced. I feel that we’ve got three experienced guys now that are going to be battling for this spot.”
However, frontrunners Jyles and Lemon are both coming off of injuries, with Jyles going down hard in Week 17 against the Argos and Lemon playing the last part of the season with a torn ligament in his throwing hand.
“Cleo had his surgery (in January). He was throwing,” Barker said. “Steven Jyles, he worked with our trainer and threw there. He should report to training camp 100% and should have no issues.
“It’s always a concern anytime you have off-season surgery. They will come into training camp and we expect them to be healthy.”
As for Brannigan getting any special non-import treatment, Barker said forget it.
“I’m not even going to go there,” he said. “This is going to be a much more important training camp for him because I don’t look at him as a rookie.”