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Inside the CFL: Pivotal ponderings

Ted Michaels, CFL Editor

Toronto, ON (Sports Network) - In the immortal words of Hamilton Tiger-Cats head coach Marcel Bellefeuille, "you don't get any points for winning in the pre-season."

No argument here.

But, despite that, as we head into the last week of the pre-season, three CFL teams that gained victories on the field also answered some questions that this corner had heading into 2011.

Question: Are the Alouettes ready with their succession plan?

Answer: The story of starting quarterback Anthony Calvillo is well-documented. Shortly after the Grey Cup win last November, he announced that he had thyroid cancer. After undergoing surgery to remove the thyroid, he said his off-season training was going well and he was ready for his 18th CFL season, and 14th with the Als.

Calvillo didn't play last week in the 27-15 home win over Winnipeg. Backup quarterback Adrian McPherson, the four-year veteran from Florida State, and New Hampshire's Ricky Santos, who's starting his third year, both played well.

Yes, I know the Blue Bombers kept a lot of veterans at home.

But, consider that veteran Montreal receivers Jamel Richardson, SJ Green and Kerry Watkins didn't play in the win, and the Als' aerial attack still looked impressive.

If CFL fans think the Als would be sunk if Calvillo was injured this year, they may be in a for a rude awakening.

Question: Do the Argos need "Lemon-Aid?"

Answer: One of the big issues in the off-season was could Cleo Lemon come back and have a better year than 2010?

To be fair, Lemon did have a broken finger on his throwing hand for most of the season, which hampered his ability to throw. Still, many questioned if Lemon could do the job this year.

They got an answer.

In the Argos' 31-12 win over Hamilton on Saturday, Lemon completed 11-of-15 passes for 130 yards and one touchdown. More importantly, he didn't turn the ball over.

"I was real proud of Cleo," head coach Jim Barker said after the game. "He took a lot of abuse last year and he has taken a lot of abuse in the off- season. I was proud of how he played. You could not ask for much more. I was tickled for him and hopefully this is the start of some great things for him."

Question: Is it time to sing "Louie Lulay?"

Answer: Heading into his third CFL season in BC, Travis Lulay, the Montana State product, showed he could be on the verge of a spectacular season. In the Lions' 24-0 win at Calgary, he completed 8-of-13 passes for 114 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

If he stays healthy, he, and the Lions, could surprise a lot of people this year.

And, on that note, next week, fearless predictions.

Notes: TSN of Canada is to be commended for really bringing the CFL game up close to its viewers.

Last week, the network showed portions of the pre-game speeches that Saskatchewan head coach Greg Marshall and Edmonton head coach Kavis Reed gave to their teams before their pre-season game.

This Thursday, for the first time, TSN will use live microphones on players and coaches during a CFL game.

Fans will be able to hear play calls, pep talks, grunts and groans as they happen during TSN's special broadcast of the Argonauts-Blue Bombers pre-season game.

"Our league prides itself on its accessibility for our fans -- and this initiative takes them inside our game in a very exciting way," said Matt Maychak, the CFL's vice-president, broadcast and communications. "It's another example of how our partnership with TSN continues to grow stronger -- and our fans and viewers continue to benefit from that partnership."

TSN will look to use live microphones on players and coaches at other points throughout the season.

Ted Michaels is the host of the Fifth Quarter, on AM 900 CHML.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Ted Michaels at ted@900chml.com.

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