Zach, our TSM Argo expert was at Toronto Argonaut practice today:
Don’t let the last two weeks fool you. When the Toronto Argonauts host the Calgary Stampeders in their home opener on Wednesday, the CFL career of quarterback Cleo Lemon will commence.
On Wednesday Lemon, the 30-year old NFL journeyman-turned CFL rookie, will make his first start at home as a CFL professional, marking the true beginning of his football career north of the border. Not much was expected from Lemon in his first two starts as an Argo, as it’s very hard for American quarterbacks to adjust to the Canadian game, and not enough credit is given to those who can. But there will be no cross-continent excuses allowed in the home opener for Lemon. The pivot looked shaky in his first start against Calgary on Canada Day, but improved mightily in a big road win against Winnipeg last week. However, much more work is in store for the former Miami Dolphin in order to truly make it as a CFL quarterback.
Lemon feels he making the necessary improvements:
“I’m getting there.” said Lemon. “It’s one of those things, you know, the more looks on the practice field, getting more game experience, you kinda get settled from that standpoint…”
Argos head coach Jim Barker echoed that sentiment:
“Every snap he takes, every snap he watches, every game he watches on television, he becomes more and more attune to what the CFL game is all about.” said Barker. “Obviously Cleo is a work in progress, he’s continuing to grow, but he has those qualities that you have to have to have success in this league…”
In his seven years prior as a professional footballer, Lemon had never taken the field as a starter for a home opener. Now holding the reigns of Canada’s oldest football franchise, there is obvious pressure. Teammate Jermaine Copeland says he’s capable of handling it:
“The jitters are out of him and he’s starting to feel better and better each week in practice and starting to understand the game and starting to know where he needs to go with the ball”
“You’re gonna see a great Cleo Lemon throughout this season.” Copeland added. “He’s going to get better and better each week.”
Obviously this isn’t a make-or-break game for Lemon; the third game of a season rarely is for any player. But another bad game against Calgary and some of the goodwill from last week will vanish and the quiet rumblings about Lemon’s CFL potential will arise. On the contrary, a solid performance in front of his home crowd will not only ignite the Argo fan-base but it will start to erase the memories of the debacle that was the 2009 season.
This will be Lemon’s coming out party; his personal cotillion into Argonauts high-society. For Toronto’s sake, let’s hope he knows how to dance.
Argos Game Preview for Wednesday, July 14th:
The 1-1 Toronto Argonauts host the 2-0 Calgary Stampeders in Toronto’s home opener. This game is a rematch from the season opener on Canada Day, in which Calgary won 30-16. The Stampeders followed that with a 23-22 win against Hamilton. Toronto was also victorious in week two, topping the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 36-34.
Coach Barker on the Stampeders:
“They’re a gutsy team. They’re a team that’s talented and they play with a lot of courage, and they have that attitude of it doesn’t what were up against we’re gonna win and what we’re building here…this will be a great challenge.”
Quarterback Cleo Lemon on preparing for Calgary the second time around:
“I wouldn’t say easier, because these guys are opportunistic. You have to be really disciplined in your reads and that’s hopefully what I’ll continue to do.”
Wide Receiver Jermaine Copeland on winning on the road:
It’s huge. I mean it’s like a big monkey off our back, that’s what a lot of people around here have been talking about. A lot of people were so excited after the victory and now the thing is we gotta worry about our home field. We gotta be a team in this league that dominates when anybody comes to Toronto…”
Kickoff at 7:30 EST at the Rogers Centre and TSM should be there for all the action, catch it on @yyzsportsmedia on Twitter and a post game wrap up too!