TORONTO – Although he regularly goes up against Hamilton offensive-tackle Jason Jimenez, you might be surprised to learn John Bowman believes the dirtiest player in the Canadian Football League is Toronto centre Dominic Picard.
The Alouettes meet the Argonauts Thursday night at the Rogers Centre.
“He’s blatant. And he gets away with penalties that are never called,” said Bowman, the Als’ veteran rush-end.
On the second play of a game in Montreal last month, Bowman accused Picard of taking a swing at him. And last week, against Edmonton, Bowman said he saw Picard put his knee in the groin of an Eskimos’ player. Picard then elbowed the player in the mask.
“He, by far, is the dirtiest player,” Bowman charged. “I’m just going to play, but if I have to hit him in the mouth, I will. Guys who aren’t as good and get their shot, they feel they’ve got to be nasty. As it is, the centre has the least amount of work.”
Picard, predictably, was astonished to learn of Bowman’s claim. But Picard, a Quebec City native, admitted he plays the game on the edge.
“I’m speechless,” Picard told Als Inside/Out. “But when I strap my helmet on I’m a different person. I was taught and I play on the edge. That’s all I know. And I play with passion.
“I know (those claims) come up, but I don’t think I’m dirty. I don’t try to do nasty things. I love the game and play every snap like it’s my last one. Maybe Bowman doesn’t like to come inside. I don’t know.”
Why the Argos struggle: Toronto hasn’t won a Grey Cup since 2004. Since 2000, when Anthony Calvillo become the Als’ starting quarterback, the Double Blue have gone through 15 pivots.
Kerwin Bell: 1998-2001
Jimmy Kemp: 1999-2001
Stanley Jackson: 2001-02
Reggie Slack: 1993-2002
Marcus Brady: 2002-03
Michael Bishop: 2002-08
Damon Allen: 2003-07
Spergon Wynn: 2006
Rocky Butler: 2007
Mike McMahon: 2007
Kerry Joseph: 2008-09
Cody Pickett: 2008-09
Stephen Reaves: 2009
Cleo Lemon: 2010-11
Dalton Bell: 2010-11
Riders understand: Defensive-tackle Ryan Lucas returned to the Als this week off Saskatchewan’s practice roster. It was his choice, and he jumped at the opportunity to replace the injured J.P. Bekasiak, knowing he had yet to play for the Roughriders this season.
Lucas dressed for four regular-season games in 2010, along with the West Division final and Grey Cup.
“I’m sorry to see Ryan go, but it was a numbers thing with him,” head coach Greg Marshall told the Regina Leader-Post. “We have some good depth among our Canadian defensive linemen. Because he’s not a special teams guy, he was the odd-man out. Montreal has a need and they wanted him. You can’t stop a guy from wanting to play.”
Lucas dressed for one game with Montreal in 2007 and was on the team’s practice roster the following season. He spent 2009 out of football, returning to Vancouver when he worked in construction during the day and was a bouncer at night on the weekends.
“I didn’t appreciate pro sports and the opportunity,” he said. “When you work in the real world you realize how much fun football is.
“I had to pay the bills,” he added. “There were some days I was working 16 or 17 hours.”
Als go scouting: With NFL training camps now in full swing, the Als are headed south in the hopes of finding that diamond in the rough.
General manager Jim Popp will attend Tennessee, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, Miami, Carolina and Cincinnati. His assistant, Marcel Desjardins, has drawn Minnesota, Denver, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Oakland.
Former offensive-lineman Uzooma Okeke, who now scouts for the team, is off to Houston, Dallas, New Orleans, Indianapolis, St. Louis and Kansas City. Mike McCarthy, another scout, gets to Buffalo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Chicago and Green Bay.
Finally, Jeremy Snyder, an American-based scout, will watch Philadelphia, Washington, New England, Baltimore and the two New York-based teams, the Giants and Jets.
News you need: The Argos, who share a facility with baseball’s Blue Jays, play five of their first seven games on the road. … Through five games, the Argos have a league-high 19 turnovers, an average of almost four per game. Kick-returner and receiver Chad Owens, a former Alouette, has fumbled three times. … Als healthy scratches vs. Toronto are expected to be running-back Emmanuel Marc, kicker Sandro DeAngelis, offensive-tackle Dylan Steenbergen and receiver Dallas Baker … Six games, and counting, and still no Als media guide for 2011. Perhaps one won’t be produced.