Argos' Khalif Mitchell will be coming 'harder'

Khalif Mitchell (right) had been with the B.C. Lions but is set to start the 2013 season with the...

Khalif Mitchell (right) had been with the B.C. Lions but is set to start the 2013 season with the Toronto Argoauts. (BEN NELMS/Reuters)

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:17 AM ET

TORONTO - In normal circumstances, CFL veterans view the pre-season as a platform to familiarize themselves to a new system or get acquainted with new teammates in a competitive backdrop.

And then there's Khalif Mitchell, who has a lot to prove to himself when he makes his Argos debut in Thursday's pre-season finale against Montreal.

Mitchell has dropped 25 pounds and has looked very impressive lining up next to Kevin Huntley in the interior of Toronto's defensive line.

It's one thing to refine moves or begin to understand the nuances of the player lining up next to you in training camp, but it's quite another thing when there's someone other than a teammate lining up across from you.

"I view this (Thursday's pre-season) like I would a game,'' said Mitchell. "I'll be going in with a lot more hardness toward myself.

"I want to go ahead and know how I feel, what moves I've learned. I've lost 25 pounds from the last camp and I want to figure out how I'll move with it. I need to figure out whether it was a good loss or was it bad. I want to be able to go harder, longer and faster."

It remains to be seen how many reps Mitchell will take against the Alouettes.

Either way, the potential for the Argos to field a very solid and stout tackle tandem can only help a defence that is slowly coming together, both in terms of personnel and understanding schemes.

During his time in B.C., Mitchell grew close with Eric Taylor, forming a very tight bond away from the field.

Taylor spent time in Toronto, helping to anchor the Argos' interior with Huntley.

As good as Taylor is, Mitchell is better, among the most dominant defensive linemen in the CFL.

Mitchell and Huntley have forged a close friendship.

"I told him how I wanted to be that same type of player,'' Mitchell said of replicating the presence Taylor had playing alongside Huntley.

"Kevin and I are hallmates, teammates, and we've built a close relationship."

When he played in B.C., Mitchell often watched Huntley and was impressed by his many physical and mental attributes.

"His size,'' said Mitchell of Huntley's main traits. "The way he comes off the ball. He dominates the middle and he commands authority. He plays with a motor."

Huntley and Mitchell did not accompany the team to Winnipeg last week, but neither did any established veteran on either side of the ball.

There's no debate as to who will line up inside, the grey area being at defensive end, though Mister Alexander, who played for the Houston Texans in last year's NFL playoffs, has looked very impressive since his late arrival.

The moment Mitchell arrived in camp, his presence was quickly noticed.

"He's had a great camp,'' said head coach Scott Milanovich.

"He's been very physical and he's been very dominant."


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