Argos training camp reaches the one-week mark today and the team will get a much-deserved rest with a day off.
Two-a-days — at one point in the week the threat of bad weather had them get through four practices in a 24 hour period — have Jim Barker’s Argonauts in tip-top shape.
Better still is the leaps-and-bounds strides the team has made in camp from this same time last season.
Last season it was newly-named head coach Barker, his newly formed coaching staff and a cross-section of Argos returnees and fresh faces soldiering to get on the same page.
This year Barker and his staff return in tact while the core of a nine-win team also returns.
It’s made for a much more business-like and much more efficient training camp thus far.
“The competition in practice this year has been unbelievable,” veteran cornerback Byron Parker said. “We’re all familiar with the system so now it’s just all about going out and making plays instead of thinking about it.”
The playbook which was new to both students and teachers a year ago has been tweaked, but the bulk of it returns.
“It takes the whole thinking part out of the game and now it’s just making plays,” Parker said.
And with that attitude in addition to a solid returning corps, Parker sees no reason why the Argos can’t contend for a Grey Cup this year.
“Right now I have the feeling I had when I was here in 2007,” he said. “I definitely thought we should have won it then. Even in ’06 when I came back, but our confidence level is very high. We believe in ourselves. We are confident in our system and in each other. That’s all you really need. That’s the first step and then everything else takes care of itself.”
Barker couldn’t agree any more.
“We are 500 times ahead of where we were this time last year,” Barker said. “We don’t want to be a team that surprises. We want to be a solid team week in and week out, year in and year out that does things the right way.”
“Our players came back very focussed,” Barker said. “You look at the number of injuries we’ve had this camp. Knock on wood, but there have been very few ... That tells you what kind of shape these guys came back in. That tells me they came back understanding there would be great competition, that (everyone) knows the way things operate and it allowed us to start at a different level. If we started at level zero last year, now maybe we’re at level 10 and that’s a huge difference for us too.”
It’s early, but early indications are the Argos may already have enough here to make for a special season.