Anthony Cannon didn’t win a starting job coming out of training camp, but that had far more to do with the experience in front of him than anything he showed or didn’t in camp.
Cannon, in fact, was on the tip of head coach Jim Barker’s tongue on pretty much every day of camp when he did his daily overview of the proceedings with the media.
But playing behind Kevin Eiben, Jason Pottinger and Jordan Younger, just making the roster was an accomplishment.
Three weeks into the season, two thirds of that linebacker unit is hurt - Pottinger gone for the season with a knee injury and Eiben temporarily sidelined with a pulled calf muscle.
Ejiro Kuale, Cannon’s roommate on the road has stepped in to fill Pottinger’s role while Cannon followed suit in Eiben’s role early in Friday’s loss to Winnipeg.
Cannon gives Kuale a lot of the credit for helping him adapt to Canadian football as quickly as he has.
“He’s definitely taken me under his wing since I’ve been here and I’ve got much respect for Kuale,” the one-time Detroit Lion said. “I love his enthusiasm and the way he plays the game. He’s a special teams demon. Everything about him speaks football and Argos-type of player. I feed off of him and we pretty much are there for each other.”
Kuale, with a year under his belt has brought Cannon along much quicker than he might otherwise have come.
“Just the whole concept and how everything works up here in Canada and the CFL,” Cannon said of Kuale’s influence. “Little small differences I wasn’t accustomed to, he would give me little tips. It’s still football at the end of the day but Canadian football is different than American football. Anywhere he could give me a little help he did and I greatly appreciate all of it.”
As for the opportunity that Eiben’s injury has presented him, Cannon said he will do what needs to be done.
“It’s one man down and the next man in,” Cannon said. “We can’t miss a beat. I have to be able to come in and play at the same level that Eiben performed at. It’s my job to step in and keep the ball rolling.”
Early reviews from his head coach are that he did just that.
“I thought he played great,” Barker said. “He drops his head a little bit when he’s tackling but he’s so instinctive and he hits things downhill which is what you need from a linebacker. I was happy with how he played and I thought Kuale played outstanding so it was nice to see those guys step up.”
With the injury bug nipping hungrily at the Argos these days, it’s exactly the kind of response the Argos needed.
O-LINE STATS REVISITED
Seven sacks against a veteran Argonaut offensive line by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers sounded out of whack.
Turns out it was.
After watching the game film head coach Jim Barker, who initially believed his O-line got worked over pretty good in Friday’s loss, admitted there were some extenuating circumstances that made the performance look much worse for his linemen than it actually was.
Barker was asked what concerned him most about the seven sacks the Bombers had against his Argos.
“Nothing,” Barker replied. “People always say it’s the offensive line but one (sack) was a quarterback draw, one was a shovel pass that (Winnipeg) played differently than they had ever shown and (the pass recipient) got caught in the backfield. Sometimes it’s the offensive line, sometimes Cleo held the ball a little too long and a couple of times the running back missed his pickup so that stuff happens early in the season but I’m not alarmed about it.”
Veteran offensive tackle Rob Murphy was not satisfied with his own performance or anyone else’s on the Argos offensive unit.
“It wasn’t a good offensive outing for anyone,” he said. “Obviously we’re not happy with it and the good thing is we have an opportunity on Friday to go back in and correct it.”
Winnipeg’s front seven did a fine job of putting pressure on Lemon and the men charged with protecting him and while Murphy was willing to give them some of the credit, he wasn’t about to start praising his opponents.
“It was a combination of both,” Murphy said. “They are a very good defensive line but at the same time it wasn’t our best day out there and I think both teams will agree on that.”
Barker admitted he was “on” Lemon during practice on Monday about holding the ball longer than he should, something the team harped on throughout training camp with all quarterbacks in camp on the stop watch from the time they took the snap to when the ball was out of their hands.
“I was on him today to make sure he was getting the ball out,” Barker said. “I think it’s natural that when games start you try to do too much and do more than you should. He has to stay within the framework of what we are doing, but he’s still making very good decisions.”