MISSISSAUGA — Jeremaine Copeland wants his fellow receivers on the Toronto Argonauts to hug it out.
“It’s time to pick each other up, especially with the tough times we’re having right now. I talked to the guys today and said, ‘The best receiving corps that I’ve ever been around are the tightest receiving corps, so it’s just time for us to get tighter and closer as a family,’” Copeland said following Monday’s practice.
“I think the tighter we get as a receiving corps the better off we’re going to be, and we started that today.”
Toronto ranks last in passing yards per game , passing touchdowns [three] and average gain per pass [seven yards]. Copeland leads Toronto with 228 receiving yards, which is 14th in the league. No other Argos player has more than 200.
“We’ve had some drops, some plays that needed to be made that didn’t get made and we’re not really doing anything in the red zone,” said Copeland. “We know we got to get better as a group.”
Copeland, playing in his 11th CFL season, believes positive reinforcement will help turn the tide. He has noticed that, during a four-game losing streak, the energy that spurred the team to an unexpectedly strong result last year has dissipated.
“When things aren’t going your way and bounces are going against you and you start losing three, four in a row, then all of a sudden guys start putting up shields of protection and putting that around them. But these are the times you need to come together a lot more.
“When your teammate makes a good play, go give him a hug. Don’t just go back to the huddle and not say anything to him.”
It seems like a lot of players could use a hug these days, especially with the rough start the team is having.
Spencer Watt has dropped potential touchdown passes the last two weeks. Brandon Rideau, excellent during the pre-season, has failed to live up to his potential. Sammy Tranks may end up stealing his spot in the starting lineup. Even the normally sure-handed Copeland has had a few drops.
Kick returner Chad Owens, who recorded just two catches for seven yards during Friday’s loss in Edmonton, has not shown the same explosiveness as a receiver.
“We’re moving him around,” Argos head coach and general manager Jim Barker said. “We do different things with him and sometimes he gets lost. Chad’s biggest thing is he has to stay within himself. He tries to turn every play into a touchdown.
“Chad right now plays receiver like a returner and everything’s real fast and that’s not necessarily the best thing.”
Owens is averaging one fumble per game.
Only slotback-tailback hybrid Andre Durie, who leads Toronto with 17 receptions, can feel good about his start to the season.“You can’t ask for more from that guy,” Barker acknowledged.
The Argos offence could get a boost this week as tailback Cory Boyd may be ready to return to the lineup. The all-star practised on Monday for the first time since sustaining a knee injury in Week 2. He is questionable for Thursday’s game against Montreal.
While rehabbing, Boyd has tried to heed Copeland’s advice. He was originally upset about what happened on the play he got hurt.
“I thought about it for about two-and-a-half weeks. I was very angry,” Boyd said. “I could have done better. That’s over and done with. I don’t think about the negatives, because that brings negative energy; too much negative energy can overtake you and then you’re in a negative headspace.
“Now, I’m positive, I’m upbeat, I’m feeling good, I smell bad, but I’m still doing good.”
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