Refining the Argo defence

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:56 PM ET

With much of the attention on the Argonauts offence at training camp, it has been overlooked at times that the defence allowed a CFL-low 442 points last season.

“We started on Level 1, and we had no idea what our guys could do, what the players could grasp,” Argos head coach and general manager Jim Barker said. “We started off this year on Level 10.

“It’s important for our veterans to show why our defence was one of the top (units) in the league.”

Though the majority of veterans have returned, there are some intriguing battles for spots in the secondary. Sean Smalls and Michael Grant are trying to win the boundary cornerback spot left void when Willie Middlebrooks retired. Halfback Evan McCollough was voted the Argos’ top rookie by football reporters last season, but he is getting a strong challenge from Devonte Edwards. At the other halfback spot, it’s Lin-J Shell’s to lose, but Dee Webb has been sharp.

There should be some separation during the pre-season game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Saturday afternoon at the Rogers Centre.

“It’s going to be tough on the coaches because we have a lot of young guys who picked up the system quickly and have performed well,” veteran safety Willie Pile, the captain of the Argos defence last season, said. “We all have to show the coaches we can take the next step, because last year was not good enough. Only one team won the Grey Cup, so there is only one team that can say it was good enough. And we were not that team.”

On the defensive line, tackles Miguel Robede, Chris Bradwell and Gregory Alexandre are trying to win a spot.

ONE-ON-ONE

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats won’t come close to putting a veteran-laden lineup on the field on Saturday afternoon for their pre-season game against the Argonauts.

With that in mind, will Argos head coach and general manager Jim Barker and his staff be able to properly evaluate their players?

“They can bring everybody, they can bring nobody,” Barker said. “Football comes down to being a one-on-one game, and either our guys are going to win those or they are not.

“In terms of who is playing, you have to respect anybody who gets this far, who still is with the team. You have to respect the fact the guy is a good football player. The minute you lose that respect, you are beaten by that guy.”


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