Argos shed 16 bodies

Argonauts general manager Jim Barker. (MICHAEL PEAKE/QMI Agency file photo)

Argonauts general manager Jim Barker. (MICHAEL PEAKE/QMI Agency file photo)

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:39 AM ET

TORONTO - Toronto Argonauts’ coaching staff watched film until the sun came up Wednesday morning. When they were done, so were 16 young athletes.

“Not a fun day. Never is,” said general manager Jim Barker on cut-down day as the team gets closer to its opening day 46-man roster.

Gone is Ricky Santos, the veteran backup quarterback with the Montreal Alouettes. Also released is defensive back Sean Smalls, who lost his job to the ultra-demonstrative Ahmad Carroll. Smalls started 18 games last season but Carroll had been impressive since the beginning of training camp. He’s aggressive and he has a motor that doesn’t seem to know idle.

“Carroll came out and played very, very well. He locked down anyone he covered. He just won the job. Simple as that,” said Barker.

Also gone is Anthony Cannon who took over last year when Kevin Eiben was injured and played in 14 games.

The departure of Cannon might be surprising in that, with Jason Pottinger injured, it leaves the club without a middle linebacker. Ejiro Kuale, who played a little in the middle last year, could move into the spot although Barker indicated the team is scouring cuts from other clubs — and they do have until Saturday to post their roster of 46, plus a practice squad.

Wednesday’s cuts also include wide receivers Jessie Hubbard, Samie Parker, Patrick Carter and Sammy Tranks, defensive lineman Gregory Alexandre, offensive linemen Stephen Good and Darion Smith, defensive backs Ray Brown, Matt Estrada, Chris Golder, Javes Lewis, Shea Pierre and Canadian fullback Aaron Crawford.

The team will go with four quarterbacks although rookie Zach Collaros starts the season on the injured list. Trevor Harris gets the third spot on the depth chart after two outstanding pre-season games. Jarious Jackson gets the backup job to Ricky Ray.

“Anyone who says they weren’t surprised by a rookie who goes 13 for 15 for 160 yards and two (touchdowns in Tuesday’s exhibition win over Montreal) is lying,” said Barker. “You never know how guys are going to react until the lights go on and he won a job. We released Ricky Santos because of the job Trevor did. Ricky did nothing but good things but we only have so many spots.”

Santos played in head coach Scott Milanovich’s system in Montreal and was signed just a week ago.

“There was obviously some heated debates,” Barker said, about the final cuts. “Ultimately we made a decision we thought best. We let a couple guys go that coaches fought very hard for ... that happens all the time,” said Barker. “Ultimately I have the final say but I’ve been around long enough (to know) you can’t give a coach a player he doesn’t want. You can’t win doing that.”

The receiver spot has been a Bermuda Triangle with Barker reporting that Djems Kouame suffered a broken leg in Tuesday’s game and will go on the disabled list. “And Quincy Hurst hurt his knee,” said Barker, “we don’t know to what extent but that’s three Canadian receivers (Julian Feoli-Gudino is the other) we’ve lost.”

Veterans Maurice Mann, Jason Barnes and Andre Durie have also been sidelined with injuries although Barker said only Mann is doubtful for the season opener against Edmonton. If Harris has been the delight of camp, the receiving corps inconstancy is the biggest damper. “It has caused more of the issues than anything else,” said Barker, “Getting that so its more solidified is the No. 1 thing. I don’t know if we don’t have the receivers here. It’s just hard to evaluate when they’re injured.”

BARKER NOT WORRIED BY RAY’S SO-SO PLAY

So, it’s unanimous: Ricky Ray has been underwhelming in his debut as an Argonaut.

“I have to get more comfortable ... be more patient,” Ray said after completing only one more pass than he had intercepted in Tuesday’s final preseason game.

Wednesday, general manager Jim Barker — when pressed — admitted this isn’t the start he had hoped for from his all-star quarterback either.

“We’d love to have had Ricky play a little better. That’s something you look for,” he said.

But is he worried?

“If Ricky Ray is our worst problem we’ll have a pretty good football team,” said Barker. “When you think about the interceptions, the first one (the receiver) tried to bat it down and batted it right into the guy’s hands. The second one (Ray) made a bad read. That’s going to happen in a new offence. It’s all going to slow down for him. We’re not worried.”

Head coach Ray Milanovich’s offence can be complicated but Barker remains confident Ray will get a handle on the multiple reads.

“My heart pitter patters every time I go out and watch him and think he’s on our team now,” said Barker.

Meantime the plan is for Trevor Harris or Zach Collaros to emerge as the quarterback of the future. “They get a year to work it out,” said Barker.

“That’s the mission (Argonauts’ CEO and chairman) Chris Rudge has set out: ‘We will develop quarterbacks.’ He wanted four here. He wanted two young ones.

“And,” said Barker, laughing: “He wants to win right now. He wants everything.”


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