Crunch time for Argos

Argos quarterback Jarious Jackson will likely get the start at home against Montreal on Sunday with...

Argos quarterback Jarious Jackson will likely get the start at home against Montreal on Sunday with Ricky Ray still somewhat hobbled by a knee injury. (Stan Behal/QMI AGENCY)

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:17 PM ET

If football players like meeting head-on the challenges that are placed in front of them, the Argonauts should absolutely love meeting the Montreal Alouettes on Sunday.

Argos head coach Scott Milanovich revealed following practice at an Oakville high school on Thursday that Dontrelle Inman, who is second among Toronto receivers with 675 yards, will not play versus the Als because of a hamstring injury.

It’s likely to keep Inman out at least a couple of weeks, opening the door for Jason Barnes to make an impact. Running back Chad Kackert (ribs) probably will be out again. He might be capable of starting, but lasting an entire game is another matter. Ken-Yon Rambo, Ahmad Carroll and Spencer Watt also are hurt.

“Everybody is in the same boat,” Milanovich said of the injuries and how each team has to deal with them. “You expect this type of thing coaching in a long season. You are not happy about it, You have to embrace the challenge and move on. We are not the only team. We have to find a way to win still.”

All things considered, the injury that matters the most is the one that has kept quarterback Ricky Ray out of the lineup for the past two games. His left knee is getting better to the point that he was in pads and helmet and throwing on Thursday, but Milanovich was not ready to say Ray, who had a doctor’s appointment later in the day, would return on Sunday afternoon at the Rogers Centre.

“He looked good today and it was a major step forward,” Milanovich said. “But we will have to see how it reacts.

“At this point, we are probably in the same boat and will probably go with Jarious (Jackson). The doctor would have to clear him and then Ricky would have to feel good to go. It is a combination of both. We are not going to put Ricky out there until he feels comfortable. He is a tough guy. When the time comes, he will be sure.”

Four games remain in the 2012 regular season for the Argos, but the game against Montreal already has playoff implications. If the Als win, they will be guaranteed of playing host to a post-season game in November. The Argos wouldn’t claim as much with a victory, but they would win the season series against Montreal and tie the Alouettes with 16 points atop the East Division.

Whether the Argos win or lose, they will have hoped that the Hamilton Tiger-Cats lose at Ivor Wynne on Friday night versus the B.C. Lions. The Ticats head into the penultimate regular-season game at their crusty old stadium with 10 points, four behind Toronto.

Jackson, who was tossed into the Argos fray when Ray went down during a loss in Montreal on Sept. 23, has thrown for 515 yards (48 of 90) in two-plus games. Under centre for two losses and a win, Jackson has thrown for a pair of touchdowns and been intercepted twice.

“B-minus, C-plus maybe,” Jackson said when asked to assess his time in relief of Ray. “I could be better in a few things.

“You have to be set to play. My whole career has been somewhat like that, even back in high school. It’s not a big deal. I’m used to it, to coming off the bench.”

No matter which players he may or may not have at his disposal, Milanovich still is smarting a bit from the lacklustre effort that resulted in a lopsided loss against the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Monday. The Argos weren’t good in any phase, and Milanovich knows it is paramount for his players to re-discover the urgency they had been playing with previously.

“We had a lot of intensity before that game,” Milanovich said. “That is the disappointing thing. We need to focus on our details.”


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