Copeland looking for the ball

Argos wide receiver Jeremaine Copeland, who didn't have a catch against the Blue Bombers last week,...

Argos wide receiver Jeremaine Copeland, who didn't have a catch against the Blue Bombers last week, is looking for more opportunities against the Tiger-Cats. (DAVE THOMAS/QMI Agency)

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:26 PM ET

TORONTO - Jeremaine Copeland wants to make one thing clear.

He’s not “too upset”.

On the other hand, he hasn’t had a lot to be happy about either. Let’s just say he’s concerned. This has been a season of lost opportunity. For the Argonauts. For him. Both need a win this weekend against Hamilton, or risk becoming a CFL afterthought.

“We’ve got a six-game stretch and hopefully we don’t end up having that losing season where I have to be upset about what happened,” said Copeland, who has become a go-to receiver nobody has been going to. This could turn into his worst season since he found his way to Canada and a potential Hall of Fame career.

He has become so irrelevant he didn’t even catch a pass in Toronto’s 25-24 win last weekend. “I don’t remember (the last time that happened). I can’t answer that. I have no idea. It’s been a long time ... it’s happened maybe once or twice in the 10 years I’ve been playing ball up here,” Copeland said.

And, don’t think that doesn’t irritate him.

The Argos have had quarterback issues. The offensive line has been in injury-induced flux and Toronto has gone to a more run-oriented game plan. And then there’s another factor. Maybe Copeland just hasn’t gotten as open, as often. All have combined to limit Copeland’s effectiveness.

“I don’t know,” puzzled head coach Jim Barker. “He’s had the ball thrown to him. It’s not like there weren’t ANY balls thrown to him. It’s hard to put a finger on sometimes. With a receiver they go through periods like this ... but he is a guy who’s got to be able to get open.”

In 12 of Toronto’s games, there have been eight in which Copeland hasn’t caught more than three passes. Only once has he gone over 100 yards. That was in July against Winnipeg and it seems ages ago. “That’s been the only time I had a pretty good game. I really haven’t had that (breakout) game. I haven’t had the opportunities, to have that big game.”

When Steven Jyles took over at quarterback there was talk Copeland would be targeted 10-12 times a game. It hasn’t happened.

“I haven’t been targeted that way at all,” said Copeland. “That’s just the way our offence has been going. It is, what it is. I’m just a player. I’m not a coach. I’m just trying to do my job.”

It has always been a job Copeland approaches with unrestrained joy.

But his lack of production has been frustrating and has been exacerbated by the team’s misfortunes. “That hurts even more when the team is losing and you feel you could’ve provided a lot more for an offence and,” he pauses, perhaps in search of a diplomatic way to end his thought, “and, ahhh, you don’t get the opportunities to, ahhh, spark an offence. That’s definitely a double whammy.”

There have been a lot of double whammies — a dozen games; nine losses. In the three games since Jyles has been at quarterback, Copeland has caught more than one pass in only one. “As long as we get on a winning streak I’m cool with it,” he said. “But if we’re losing and I’m not catching the ball, then, that’s a different story. That’s not good.”

Oh, and as for the previous game in which he didn’t catch a pass? According to cfl.ca it was when he was with Calgary; Nov. 1, 2008, against the B.C. Lions. It also happened earlier that year, on Sept. 20, against the Argos.

For Copeland they were moments worth forgetting. This season is on the cusp of turning into another one of those moments. For Copeland. For the Argonauts. “Our time is winding up. We’ve got to get it together and we’ve got to get it together fast,” he said. “We’re all paid to do a job and if we don’t do that job we’re going to end up not being here.”


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