Posted by: Jeremy | August 27, 2009

Argos, Stamps set to battle Friday

Pickett looks to get the Argos back on track Friday night against Calgary

Pickett looks to get the Argos back on track Friday night against Calgary

If there’s a team that can relate to the Argos’ late-game struggles, it’s the Calgary Stampeders. Toronto, coming off a heartbreaking last-second loss to B.C. two weeks ago, faces a Calgary team Friday that has dropped two of its last three games in the final two minutes.

The Argos let a 15-point second half lead get away against the Lions on August 14, a day after Calgary lost a 38-35 decision to Edmonton on a touchdown with 15 seconds remaining. Two weeks earlier, Saskatchewan edged the Stampeders 24-23 on a 65-yard Chris Getzlaf touchdown with 1:27 to go.

Friday’s matchup will be the second of the season between the teams. The Stampeders used three second-half defensive touchdowns to rout the Argos 44-9 in Calgary on July 17. Kerry Joseph started that game at quarterback for Toronto, but he’s since been replaced by Cody Pickett. Pickett made two starts against Calgary last season, both losses.

“I don’t really have anything to prove,” Pickett said Thursday about his struggles against the Stampeders in 2008. “We’re going to go out there and look to get touchdowns and get a victory.

“They have a good defense — a good all-around team,” he added. “We need to take care of the ball and be successful.”

Pickett was solid against B.C. — his first start of 2009 — passing for 326 yards without turning the ball over. He connected eight times with Chad Lucas and will have a new target Friday in P.K. Sam, who makes his first start of the season since re-joining the team last month and recovering from a quadriceps injury. Sam caught 36 passes for 499 yards in just six games with Toronto last year and spent the early part of this season in training camp with the Buffalo Bills.

“Anytime I play I’m excited,” Sam said after Thursday’s walk-through. “Last year it was hard to feel part of the team because I got here so late. This year I have pretty much a whole season so I’m looking forward to contributing and making a push for the Grey Cup.”

Lucas, who has 256 receiving yards in just three games since joining the Argos, is pleased to have another skilled receiver in Toronto’s passing attack.

“It’s going to do wonders,” Lucas said. “They have to account for him, and when they do that it means other guys get open, whether it’s me, Reggie (McNeal), Bradwell or Scott.”

Sam isn’t the only new addition — Toronto’s defense and special teams will get a boost from cornerback Byron Parker, who was cut by the Philadelphia Eagles last week. Parker spent four seasons with the Argos before signing with the Eagles in February, and was a CFL All-Star in 2007.

“He’ll be playing on defense,” said Argos head coach Bart Andrus. “The special teams should be the easy part. The defensive part will be a little more complicated, but he’s looked good in practice and there are situations and packages where he’ll be involved.”

Andrus’ defense will have its hands full against the Stampeders, who amassed 538 yards in the loss to Edmonton. Henry Burris, last year’s Grey Cup MVP, is tied for second in the CFL in touchdown passes (11) and is third in passing yards (2,064). Despite losing all-star receiver Ken-Yon Rambo for the season to a knee injury, Burris has two of the league’s top targets in Jeremaine Copeland and Nik Lewis. Both are among CFL leaders in receptions and yards, and Copeland is second with six touchdowns.

“They’re explosive at times,” Andrus said of Calgary’s offense. “Burris is mobile and can extend the play — we need to keep him contained and in the pocket. They have a lot of big plays, and that’s something we need to minimize.”

The Argos and Stampeders kick-off Friday at 7:30 at Rogers Centre.


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