Jyles ready for his chance
By TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency
|Argos quarterback Steven Jyles throws the ball during practice July 25, 2011. (MARK O'NEILL/QMI Agency)
TORONTO - Now that he has been handed his golden opportunity, Steven Jyles would hate to see it go to waste.
“I’m at a point in my career where I am ready and I am tired of waiting on someone to get injured to go in,” Jyles said after the Argonauts practised under grey skies at Erindale in Mississauga on Wednesday.
“When I was injured (when he was with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers last season), I was pretty mad, because I was just getting to feel where I could control this league and what the defences do to me. It was a setback as far as being the guy. I have been waiting for quite some time.”
Head coach and general manager Jim Barker will ride Jyles as his quarterback for as long as Jyles needs to prove he can do the job. Dalton Bell won’t get in again, one would think, unless Jyles is hurt, and B.J. Hall is too raw to be counted on during the next two months.
A week ago, it was anticipated that there would be some big questions regarding the Argos’ quarterback puzzle once Jyles was activated from the nine-game injured list. But that cloud blew away when Cleo Lemon was released on Tuesday.
Lemon verbally exploded in the locker room at half-time against the B.C. Lions last week upon being told he would not be going back into the game, an outburst that caught other Argos off-guard. Barker alluded to something unusual on Saturday when he told reporters that “you find out about people when things go sour.”
Lemon was gone soon after, set free by Barker, and within a couple of days, Jyles went from being on the injured list to a guy who will try to spearhead the Argos through the next nine games and into the playoffs. Anything is possible, but it’s a large obstacle to tackle. The Boatmen are 2-7 and probably are looking at a crossover spot in the West for any post-season hope.
Expecting a quick miracle from Jyles is asking for too much, in all likelihood. But the drastic quarterback change caused TSN, which last week had concluded shooting for its four-part documentary on the Argos, to keep filming through the game against the Lions in Vancouver on Saturday.
“He is going to be rusty, there is no doubt about that,” Barker said of Jyles. “What I told him was just to stay within himself and do what he can do, and eventually the offence will grow around him.
“It’s imperative on Jaime (offensive co-ordinator Jaime Elizondo) to keep the game plan so it is functional and he does not get overloaded, thinking he has to do it all.”
The difference between Lemon and Jyles, as far as some receivers are concerned, already is noticeable. Jeremaine Copeland spoke of Jyles’ CFL experience on Tuesday, and Chad Owens kept that theme going on Wednesday.
“He has a great understanding of coverage and he’s able to make pre-snap reads and get the ball out on time to the right guys,” Owens said. “We still have to run the right route and catch the ball. We’ll see what happens, but I’m excited and we have had two great days of practice.”
Owens, meanwhile, was named the CFL special teams player of the week after he ran up 245 total kickoff return yards against the Lions last Friday, establishing a club record. His highlight was a 91-yard return for a touchdown.
For Jyles, the open road is his. It’s just a matter of ensuring he does not become another Argos casualty.
“(The offence) made some plays when Cleo was starting, but we always (would) make a bad play,” Jyles said. “Any time you make a bad play, now it is second and long and you are coming off the field because they are going to blitz. I am fired up to help us stay on the field and keep it in these guys’ hands.”