Argonauts have big decisions on cut-down day

Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo gets sacked by Argonauts' Khalif Mitchell during their...

Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo gets sacked by Argonauts' Khalif Mitchell during their pre-season game, Thursday, at Varsity Stadium in Toronto. Roster cut-downs are today. (CRAIG ROBERTSON/QMI Agency)

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:20 AM ET

TORONTO - It’s of no consequence whether a team wins or loses in the pre-season, a time when evaluation supersedes everything.

It’s of no consequence the Argonauts would emerge with a 2-0 record, the team’s latest win produced against Montreal on Thursday.

In keeping with last season’s theme of underwhelming home performances, the Argos would begin the night at Varsity Stadium with no energy, ending the evening with a quarterback who made quite the impression.

In Winnipeg last week in the pre-season opener, the Double Blue played fast on defence, flying to the ball and forcing turnovers — while efficient on offence.

Against the Als, there wasn’t the same kind of urgency, but then again the presence of veterans, most of whom did not accompany the team to the ’Peg, may have led to the lackadaisical approach.

“There’s a lot of things you’re trying to get out of a pre-season game, but winning’s a habit,’’ began head coach Scott Milanovich.

“And so is losing.

“It’s always important for us to try to come out on top. We’ll certainly take it, but we know we need to get a lot better next week.”

There’s depth at the all-important non-import department, a group of athletic and motivated defenders eager to earn a roster spot, despite their unknown tag, and an offence that has the potential to be very explosive.

Ricky Ray’s evening against Montreal amounted to three attempts, three incompletions on deep balls that spoke to Toronto’s expanding approach.

When they went to their ground game, a player who left his mark was rookie Curtis Steele.

Chad Kackert is the incumbent, but the Argos have to make a tough call, one of many, when it comes to Kackert’s backup.

Gerald Riggs Jr. reported to camp in great shape and has run hard when given touches.

Steele is a kid worth keeping, but the odds of retaining both are virtually non-existent.

Quarterback Zach Collaros may have ultimately been the biggest winner in the wake of Thursday’s win, rushing for a touchdown and throwing for a TD as he led an offence that would provide the margin of victory in a 24-20 win.

“I don’t think I sent a message,’’ said Collaros. “They’ve (coaches) seen enough of all the quarterbacks. I don’t know how much that will change anything.”

Trevor Harris didn’t look as sharp against the Als as he did against the Blue Bombers.

“The coaches told us they evaluate everything equally,” Harris said. “Practices and walkthroughs and the way we carry ourselves.”

The Argos spent most of Friday’s off day in meetings, a day when further evaluation was conducted.

By Saturday, the roster will be trimmed with a glimpse into next week’s opening night team will be provided.

The season begins next Friday against the Ticats, the same team that would provide the opposition for the Argos in last season’s finale.

When the Argos usher in their new year, a championship banner will get raised.

There’s plenty of work that needs to be done, but one area that can’t be addressed by any scheme or personnel move is to dominate at home.

En route to their average, at times mediocre, 9-9 regular season, the Scullers had a losing record at home, posting a 4-5 mark that would rank team last in the CFL with Winnipeg.

On the road, the Argos would tie Calgary and B.C. for the league-high with five wins, including a late-season win in Regina that basically got the ball rolling behind Toronto’s push for a championship.

Toronto’s home win versus Hamilton would follow, setting the stage for a post-season run capped off by a victory in the 100th Grey Cup.

Taking into account last season’s late-season push and this year’s pre-season, the Argos have won seven straight.

CFL ON TV? NB-SEE IT

The Argonauts are planning to air it out more often this season when their offence takes to the field.

They’ll also be getting more air time down south following Friday’s news that the Canadian Football League had struck a deal with NBC Sports Network that involves a package of 14 regular-season games, including five games involving the Double Blue, a league high.

Part of Toronto’s exposure will feature its Thanksgiving Day visit to Guelph, which will play host to the Ticats this season.

The network’s coverage begins with next week’s season opener in Winnipeg between the Bombers and the Montreal Alouettes and continues in the post-season with broadcasts of the East and West finals and the Grey Cup.

“We’re very pleased to partner again this year with NBC Sports Network to deliver our high-scoring and exciting brand of football to our fans south of the border,” CFL president Michael Copeland said in a statement.

“It’s important for our league and has a significant impact on player recruitment, and gives fans an opportunity to follow some of their former favourite collegiate players.”

In Canada, all games are shown on TSN.

NBC Sports Network aired nine games last season.


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