Argos ready to ride Rideau

Argonauts receiver Brandon Rideau catches the ball during practice in Mississauga. After wearing...

Argonauts receiver Brandon Rideau catches the ball during practice in Mississauga. After wearing down late last season, coach Jim Barker told the rookie to put on some weight. (QMI Agency)

Mike Ganter, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:09 PM ET

Outside of perhaps quarterback Cleo Lemon, no Argonaut goes into 2011 capable of making a bigger jump in production from a year ago than receiver Brandon Rideau.

He’s tall, fleet of foot and a good route runner, but when it came to putting numbers up a year ago, Rideau couldn’t match the results with the package he brought to the table.

Rideau knows this as well as anyone.

“It wasn’t a perfect last season,” Rideau said recently. “It started off pretty good and then it kind of fell off a little bit. It got to the point where I had to make a decision on whether I wanted to be able to make a difference or not.”

A week into camp, Rideau looks very much like a guy who wants to make a difference.

On consecutive days last week — Thursday and Friday — Rideau was arguably the best receiver in camp. That was head coach and GM Jim Barker’s opinion.

Barker though saw this in training camp a year ago. His high expectations then were never met.

So in his year-end interview with Rideau he had some pointed advice.

Part one was put on some weight and come ready for the grind of a full season.

A long off-season spent at Rice University working with former Kansas teammate Lyonel Anderson who is now a strength and conditioning coach there got the desired results.

“It’s very hard to gain weight,” the second year Argos receiver said. “It’s been 28 years and I’ve been trying to get to 215 for a long time now.”

Rideau says 215 likes he’s there. Officially he’s listed at 211 but that’s still up from the 210 Rideau played at last year.

Rideau was one of the feel-good stories of training camp last year. Unfortunately for him and the Argos that good feeling didn’t last the entire season.

In addition to asking Rideau to come back a little heavier to better withstand the rigours of an 18-game season Barker made it clear that he wanted him to use the god-given assets he has to become the kind of football player Barker believes he can be.

“I don’t think he was ready to play an 18-game season last year and I told him that,” Barker said.

Rideau appears to have answered that but only once the season actually starts will Barker know if Rideau has followed his other advice.

“He has a lot of tools but he needs to also make plays,” Barker said. “When the ball is thrown to him, he’s 6-foot-4, 6-foot-5, he has to go up and make plays and that’s what he didn’t do last year. Brandon always knows where to go and always runs the right route, but with him it’s making plays.”

There’s nothing more frustrating than watching a guy who appears to have all the assets to make him a great receiver, not use that assets to the fullest potential.

Suffice to say, Rideau frustrated more than a few Argos followers and staff members alike last season.

His first year in the CFL produced 443 yards receiving on 23 catches and just one touchdown. Not bad for a rookie, but based on what he showed in training camp, well below expectations.

Barker is convinced the extra bulk will help him remain strong throughout the season.

“That will help him in Week 15,” Barker said. “He will be stronger and be able to handle an 18-game season. You remember last season, he started out great and then he levelled off, went down a bit, got rested and then we brought him back a bit at the end and he played better. It’s about being able to handle an 18-game season.”

Rather than make excuses for what didn’t happen last season, Rideau said he’d rather show people what he can do this season.

“When a receiver stops making the plays that he is supposed to make, then he has to start looking at himself and decide ‘Hey, you still got it. Now you have to go ahead an show it.’,” Rideau said.

Rideau is saying all the right things and so far showing them in camp. Now he has to follow through when the games that count in the standings begin.


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