Argos QB needs a lasting impression
By Bill Lankhof, QMI Agency
|If Dalton Bell is to realize his dream of becoming a starting CFL quarterback, or even just staying in the league, he'll have to show something in Thursday's final league game against the Tiger-Cats. (QMI Agency)
Dalton Bell doesn’t have a lot to prove.
The only thing on the line for the Toronto Argonauts quarterback is two years of sweat, of studying playbooks until his eyes crossed or sleep enveloped his consciousness, hours spent standing in rain, sweltering August heat and October chill, learning football all over again.
The only thing on the line after two years as a backup first to Cleo Lemon, then to Steven Jyles, is his future as an Argonaut. His future in the CFL. His future anywhere in an unforgiving game.
“Yeah, I’d love to stay in this league,” Bell said of his internship in three-down football. “I’ve had a chance to watch a lot of guys, like Darian Durant (Bell spent two years in Saskatchewan). I watched Cleo. I feel like I’ve got a decent grasp on it. Now it’s just a matter of going out there and doing it. I’d like to make a career of it up here and eventually be an Anthony Cavillo or Ricky Ray.”
If reality is to meet such grand ambition, some inkling will have to show itself Thursday when Bell gets the starting assignment in Toronto’s season finale against Hamilton — 60 minutes, give or take a cameo appearance from backup B.J. Hall, to prove that, indeed, he still has a future in a game that has defined his life since guiding West Texas A&M to back-to-back Lone Star Conference championships.
Since turning pro in 2006, he has never regained a starting role.
“It’s the last game, so you want to play well and keep that fresh in the coaches’ minds because (the off-season) is a long time for them to think,” said Bell, laughing. “This is my option year. I’m a free agent. So you never know what’s going to happen. I’d like to come back here next year. I’ve made a lot of good friends and know the area pretty well, but in this business, you never know.”
Lot of thinking
And, with a dozen free agents on a roster that has a 5-12 record, there will be a lot of thinking going on. There are no doubt going to be changes — especially with the Boatmen wanting to do well next season when they host the league’s 100th Grey Cup.
Bell talked about keeping it simple, “executing” and “letting our horse, Cory (Boyd) take the ball.” He’d like to get a few passes Jeremaine Copeland’s way to boost him past the 10,000 mark for his career and he’d definitely like to keep it out of the hands of the Hamilton secondary.
Bell has completed 40 of 79 passes for 396 yards and one touchdown this year, most of that coming in cold, in six games. His biggest issue has been a penchant for throwing interceptions — eight of them, including four in one game Sept. 2 against B.C.
So, if there’s one lasting impression he’d like to leave, it is “just take care of the ball. I’ve thrown a lot of picks,” he said. “I’d like to show that I can move the offence down the field. Just take what (the Ticats’ defence) give me.”
While this game means nothing in the standings, it could mean everything to Bell. “I’m looking for him to have command. He’s been with us two years. It’s time for him to step in and make plays,” said head coach and general manager Jim Barker. “There comes a point when you need to show you can be That Guy. He had the real bad outing against B.C. and hasn’t really had an opportunity since then. He went into the Winnipeg game at a critical juncture and did well (last week in a 27-22 win). He got us a couple key first downs and made a couple nice throws. So he’s got to play well. He knows that.”