Chad Owens can’t do it all himself.
On Sunday afternoon for the first ever Touchdown Atlantic in Moncton, the Toronto Argonauts [6-5] may have to rely heavily on their star kick returner’s athleticism.
After an impressive performance against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers last week, including an electrifying punt return for a touchdown, the double blue’s heroic Hawaiian should lead the Argos’ return game against the Edmonton Eskimos [2-9].
The special teams will have to be more than special if the ‘home’ team is going to overcome the loss of star running back Cory Boyd and possibly step into sole possession of second place in the Eastern Division.
Boyd, the league’s second-leading rusher with 903 yards from scrimmage, is currently recovering from a concussion he suffered two weeks ago against the B.C. Lions.
“At this point, he is probably not going to play,” Argos head coach Jim Barker told torontosun.com. “He will do some testing, and he is running, but we are moving like he is not going to play.”
One of the biggest tests for the Boatmen will be to resurrect their offence, after an abysmal output against the Bombers.
Quarterback Cleo Lemon threw for a paltry 90 yards on 14 completions, including a touchdown pass to Jeremaine Copeland and an interception.
Lemon should have the help of veteran receiver Reggie McNeal, who was placed on the nine-game injured list in Week 3 due to an injury to his psoas muscle in his hip.
If the air attack can’t get it going, the Argos’ running game will be served by a committee of backs, including Etobicoke’s Jeff Johnson, Bryan Crawford and Anthony Aldridge.
While not as well known as Boyd, they will have the benefit of a strengthened offensive line. Rob Murphy figures to be available to play after nursing a heel injury, and Cedric Gagne-Marcoux [calf] will also return this weekend.
Kissing bandit ready to pucker up?
Adriano Belli practiced with the team on Thursday and is listed as questionable for Sunday, after missing the past six games with a foot injury.
Jordan Younger, healing from a hamstring injury, is also listed as probable for the weekend tilt.
Eskimos looking for win
On the other side of the field, the Eskimos’ offence was inept in the 31-14 loss to the Montreal Alouettes last weekend, while quarterback Ricky Ray completed only 14 passes for 242 yards and no touchdowns.
Their ground game wasn’t exactly eye-popping last week either, after losing star running back Arkee Whitlock likely for the season with a foot injury. Calvin McCarty started in his place, and struggled on his way to just 21 yards on nine carries with a touchdown.
Defensively, the Esks welcomed safety Elliott Richardson back from wrist surgery, who made his first start of the season and recorded three tackles in the loss.
A bright spot for Edmonton’s defence is linebacker T.J. Hill, who is fourth in the league in tackles with 60, and should figure prominently in suppressing the Argos’ rushing game.
Unusual home away from home
The green and gold are currently on a 10-day road trip that included their visit to Montreal and culminates this weekend in Moncton, without a stop-off in Edmonton.
According to dailyheraldtribune.com, everyone in the Eskimos’ organization will be at the game [including front office staff], except for newly appointed GM Eric Tillman.