TORONTO - The wildest of seasons takes another twist for Jason Barnes on Sunday.
Acquired by the Argonauts from Edmonton in the off-season, Barnes was heralded as the perfect pass-game compliment for quarterback Ricky Ray, his old Eskimos teammate who also boarded the good ship Argos in the off-season.
The script fell apart when Barnes struggled to find any real rhythm in Double Blue through eight games. He was limited to 18 catches, 250 receiving yards and one TD and was subsequently released by Toronto with the intention of keeping him on the practice squad, where Barnes has stayed since his last game, Aug. 27.
With Dontrelle Inman sidelined to injury and Ken-Yon Rambo battling one of his own, the Argos offence has suddenly become leaner than a strip of venison.
That means Barnes, who has patiently waited for his chance, will start on Sunday.
“I’m happy he’s getting rewarded for being patient, sticking around, being a pro,” head coach Scott Milanovich said following Friday’s practice.
Barnes stood out for all the right reasons during drills, catching everything in sight, including a Jarious Jackson pass into the end zone from 40 yards out.
“It’s been trying, it’s been tough, but I’ve definitely been through worse before,” the 28-year-old California native said. “I’ve just tried to stay prepared ... and whatever my role is, I’m willing to accept.”
That role appears to have increased greatly, and Barnes doesn’t need to be reminded of the importance of his play on Sunday.
“I’m definitely excited,” he said. “It’s a huge opportunity. I still have a lot to prove.”
BIG ON HOCKEY
Argos offensive lineman Joel Reinders is adding another title to his sporting resume: Power forward.
It doesn’t get much more Canadian than Reinders, who has been hanging out at the rink near his home in Oakville when the Boatmen are away from the field.
“Three weeks ago, I started going back on our Mondays off,” Reinders said. “There’s a stick and a puck and a little shinny afterward. It’s great cardio, it’s great for the legs and it keeps me in shape.”
Reinders, a 2010 Argos pick who joined the team in late August after a tryout with the New York Giants, grew up playing hockey. The 25-year-old also played on the Waterloo Warriors basketball team before football came calling at the same school.
“We’re always hockey players,” the 6-foot-8, 315-pound tackle said. “But I was a little thinner back then.”