Carryover key for Smalls

Toronto Argonauts cornerback Sean Smalls looks on from the bench during their loss to the Monteal...

Toronto Argonauts cornerback Sean Smalls looks on from the bench during their loss to the Monteal Alouettes in the CFL East Division final football game in Montreal, November 21, 2010. (REUTERS/Shaun Best)

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:47 AM ET

When Sean Smalls intercepted an Anthony Calvillo pass in the Eastern Conference final last November, in the end, it didn't help the Argonauts much in that game against the Montreal Alouettes.

The Als smoked the Argos and went on to win the Grey Cup.

But for Smalls, the pick and the fact he was in the starting lineup that day are things that stayed with him during the winter.

"I know I can play at this level," the 24-year-old said on Thursday. "Starting (the Argos' final three games of 2010) gave me the experience to understand how teams will attack us and what we do to attack. The coaches trusted me to go in there and get the job done as a rookie. That gave me confidence coming into this camp."

Smalls saw action at cornerback in place of Willie Middlebrooks, who had suffered a neck injury. With Middlebrooks now on the retired list, Smalls is in serious contention for a full-time role at the boundary spot. Michael Grant, who will be in camp when the veterans start practising on Sunday, also will be in the running for the job.

'ADVANTAGE'

"There is going to be great competition for some of these spots and that is one of them," head coach Jim Barker said. "(Playing late last season) gives Sean a huge advantage. He is a rookie, but he is not really a rookie.

"Right now (it's between) Smalls and Grant because we know them. But one of these young guys, Armando Murillo, has looked good. Dee Webb has been outstanding. Dovonte Edwards is coming back.

"Byron (Parker) could always move over there, but I like Byron on the field side because of his instincts."

Murillo's bloodlines are intriguing, in that his brother is Kansas City Chiefs return specialist Javier Arenas, and his cousin is Gilbert Arenas of the Orlando Magic. Murillo said he has never met his roundball relative, but that's about the last thing on his mind.

"I want to be able to get out there and be on the same beat with these guys and not feel like a rookie," Murillo said. "When the vets come, I want to be on the same page. It's a big field. Receivers can fade away from me. I'm making the adjustment."


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