TORONTO - It was a well deserved day off for the Argos on Sunday after a road win in Calgary that has the good ship Argonaut steaming along in relatively calm seas.
We use the word relatively because even with a hard-fought road win, the 60 minutes of football created questions for Week 2 that have to be addressed in a practice week that will see them on their own field for three days before heading out to Winnipeg for the second of three road games to start the year.
Here are what the 1-0 Argos will be figuring out over the next three days and some things they’ll be looking back on that worked so well against the Stamps:
Nothing will become official until today but the whispers are that middle linebacker Jason Pottinger suffered some degree of knee injury that will require some rehab time. For his sake, we hope it’s not an ACL tear which would likely be the worst case scenario.
Give the Argos credit for having the foresight to have another Canadian linebacker on the roster ready to step right in as Tristan Black did for the entire second half on Friday.
Black was acquired from Calgary last August in return for the negotiation list rights to defensive lineman Corey Mace. Mace, ironically, suffered a season-ending Achilles tendon rupture in Friday’s game when Black finally got his opportunity.
Black is a Toronto product out of Central Tech and earned the defensive game ball Friday for the job he did filling in for Pottinger which included an interception of a Henry Burris pass in Argos territory.
As the lone non-import linebacker outside of Pottinger, the Argos could elect to stay that way and not mess with the import ratio. If they do decide to alter the import ratio the other options would be Tulane product Anthony Cannon or moving Ejiro Kuale inside. Those moves would mean a Canadian would have to start somewhere else in place of an import.
Chad Owens told reporters after the game it was a back stiffness that kept him out of the final 21/2 quarters of Friday’s game, but was adamant he would be ready for Friday’s game in Winnipeg.
Owens spot on the return team was taken over by Byron Parker who filled in admirably on punt returns while Andre Durie handled the kickoff duties with Owens out.
Both special teams coach Mike O’Shea and head coach Jim Barker said they still expected to be as creative as possible on special teams this season as they were last.
O’Shea made the point that how creative they would be would come down to what teams showed them. The Argos veterans like Jeff Johnson and Bryan Crawford have the green light to call direct snaps and whatever else they see to take advantage of what the opposition is giving them.
The fact that they’re were no trick plays — our word not O’Shea’s or Barker’s — used even once on special teams on Friday night suggests the Stamps were well prepared for the Argos and didn’t give them any opportunity to try anything.
This bears watching because the Argos were so successful scoring on special teams a year ago or extending drives they had no business extending, teams will likely be more aware of the potential and give the Argos little to capitalize on.
The Cleo factor
In the couple of days since the big road win, it has been pointed out repeatedly how Cleo Lemon’s numbers almost mirror identically his Week 1 numbers of a year ago when the Argos lost its opener in Calgary. On paper that is true. A touchdown pass and an interception each year and just five fewer passing yards this year than last. But what gets lost in the straight statistical comparison is that Lemon marched his club down the field for five scoring drives this year including two in the final quarter to put the game away. A year ago, Lemon orchestrated just two drives that resulted in points — a Jeff Johnson five-yard touchdown reception from Lemon and a Grant Shawn 28-uard field goal — with Owens 90-yard punt return the other Argos score.
Boyd still getting it done
The 2011 Cory Boyd version is just as efficient and not nearly as jeopardized based on the early showings. Boyd carried the ball 17 times for 100 yards with most of the carries taking him outside the offensive tackles where he was more opt to use his speed than just the brute force he employed last year running between the tackles and running over opposing defenders. It’s not that Boyd can no longer run through people. He can. He has just made the conscious decision to get outside when he can into open space and get his yards there.
Boyd seemed to have particularly good success running left side where Rob Murphy invariably pinned his defensive assignment to the inside allowing Boyd to use his speed in the open field. It was exactly the type of play that sprung Boyd loose for his game-longest 33-yard gain that set up his own two-yard touchdown.