Argos get down to business

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:41 PM ET

TORONTO - The first actual regular-season practice of the 2011 season for the Argonauts had a different feel to it than the training camp ones that preceded it.

The tone was a business-like one, with much less chatter and much more focus.

Head coach Jim Barker was not surprised.

Intensity is very high. Its much higher, Barker said. Its a much different atmosphere out there. Theres a sense of urgency out there and thats what there has to be.

I think the players expectations of what they are going to do is higher, Barker said. I think last year we didnt really know each other. We were excited, but we were brand new but now the expectation level is higher and with that comes a different sense of urgency.

The elevated intensity was even apparent with Barker, who at one point in his post-practice media scrum was asked about running back Cory Boyd and whether he was taking it a bit easy when he was going through a solo stretching routine on the sidelines.

Whether it was the strain of a short week of practice before the team opens the season Friday in Calgary, or perhaps some angst over watching his long-snapper Chad Rempel be helped off the practice field, Barker jumped on his questionnaire.

I dont know but I saw him run over about three players during practice so I really dont understand your question, Barker snapped.

He ran over three guys. He knocked them to the ground. I dont know how much harder you want the guy to practice.

Rempel hurt

Chad Rempel was only supposed to be filling in.

The seven-year Argos receiver who handles the teams long snapping duties was running routes with the first-team offence in place of Spencer Watt, who was sitting out the remainder of practice nursing a bruised ankle.

Watt injured the ankle when a helmet collided with it during the game in Winnipeg on Thursday and while he was able to take the early reps in practice and is expected to start in Calgary on Friday, it was thought best to give the ankle a bit of a rest.

Enter Rempel, who was making some big plays in Watts absence to the point where head coach Jim Barker was beginning to take notice.

But with about a half hour left in the on-field practice, Rempel went down and stayed down. He was helped to the sidelines and appeared to be clutching the back of his leg which normally indicates a hamstring injury.

Barker wasnt saying for sure what it was after practice. The doctor is looking at him now so we hope hes fine, Barker said.

But there was clearly some concern there. Rempel may not see the field a lot as a receiver but his role as long snapper is a specialized one that he clearly handles better than any other member of the roster.

Offensive lineman Jeff Keeping is Rempels backup and spent time after practice working on his long snaps just in case.

Well cross that bridge when we come to it, Barker said.


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