Posted by: Jeremy | August 13, 2009

Pickett looks to get Argos back on track against Lions


Bart Andrus handed the reigns to Cody Pickett earlier this week (Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski)

Bart Andrus handed the reigns to Cody Pickett earlier this week (Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski)

The Argos have had plenty of question marks offensively in 2009, and they’ll now be looking for an answer in the form of Cody Pickett. The quarterback, named to replace Kerry Joseph earlier this week, gets his first start of the season when Toronto hosts the B.C. Lions (2-4) Friday night.

Head coach Bart Andrus made the decision to insert Pickett on Tuesday. Joseph’s 10 interceptions through Week 6 are tops in the CFL, and his 56.8 % completion rate and 68.1 quarterback rating are worst amongst passers with at least 100 attempts. Pickett saw his first action of the season late in last Friday’s loss to Montreal, completing 7-of-11 attempts for 83 yards.

“He (Pickett) showed against Montreal he’s able to get the ball out of his hand on time,” said Andrus. “I have the utmost confidence he’ll be able to move the ball Friday night.”

Pickett’s ability to get rid of the ball quickly will be key to the Argos moving forward. Toronto’s offensive line surrendered seven sacks in the loss to the Alouettes and won’t get much of a break from a B.C. defense that includes two of the league’s top pass rushers in Canadians Brent Johnson and Ricky Foley.

Pickett has had an opportunity to pick up a struggling Argos offense before — last season he got two starts in place of an ineffective Joseph, both losses to Calgary.

“I’m not looking at anything that happened last year,” Pickett said Wednesday. “We all learned from it. This is a new season and we’re looking forward to going out getting some wins.

Simon (81) and Jackson (19) are one of the CFL's best receiving tandems

Simon (81) and Jackson (19) are one of the CFL's best receiving tandems

“I feel like I’m more experienced now,” he added. “Last year was good for me to get some Canadian experience. Just having a full year under my belt now, I feel comfortable.”

If it’s any consolation to Toronto, the Lions haven’t received much in the way of consistency from their quarterbacks in 2009 either. B.C. starter Buck Pierce did, however, have arguably his strongest game of the season last Friday in an impressive 35-20 win against Saskatchewan, completing 26-of-34 passes for 215 yards and a touchdown. Pierce connected with wide receiver Paris Jackson eight times in the game, giving Jackson 33 receptions on the season — good for second in the CFL. The Argos also can’t afford to sleep on receiver Geroy Simon, who has recorded over 1,300 yards in six straight seasons. Six weeks into 2009, Simon has caught just 20 passes for 311 yards.

One of the Lions’ biggest surprises thus far has been the play of rookie running back Martell Mallett. His 438 rushing yards place fourth in the league, just nine short of Toronto’s Jamal Robertson. Meanwhile, Robertson will be looking for a breakout of his own Friday after carrying the ball just six times for 20 yards against Montreal.

Andrus will again look to make the most of what he has at wide receiver, with the recently-reacquired P.K. Sam still not expected to be ready due to a quadriceps injury. That means Chad Lucas, Reggie McNeal and former-Lion Cory Rodgers will be expected to step up. Rodgers was cut by B.C. in the pre-season after missing much of 2008 with an achilles injury. Tackle Rob Murphy, a two-time CFL Most Outstanding Lineman with the Lions, also makes his first appearance against his former team. Murphy signed as a free agent with the Argos in February.

The Lions and Argos are set to kickoff Friday night at 7:30 at Rogers Centre.

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