Fletcher's foot injury could keep him out for the season

The Canadian Press

9/26/2008 8:43:12 PM

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. - Don Matthews doesn't like Michael Fletcher's chances of getting back on the field this season with the Toronto Argonauts.

The five-foot-10, 210-pound Fletcher has recovered from a recent foot injury, but won't be in the lineup when the Argos host the Calgary Stampeders on Saturday night.

Fletcher, 31, last played in Toronto's 34-31 win over Hamilton on Labour Day. He missed the following game against Montreal with the foot ailment, but this will mark the second straight week that Fletcher will be a healthy scratch.

Matthews says while he hasn't seen Fletcher play, he's taking the advice of the Argos coaching staff that Adrian Mayes is a better fit at linebacker because he's quicker than Fletcher. Matthews added he feels Fletcher's weight is a reason for the change.

"Michael came back a little bit heavy," Matthews said. "I haven't seen him play this year but the coaching staff felt that the speed of Mayes at his position was more inportant than his.

"I would say at this point, no, he is not looking like he's going to be considered this year. Now, never say never, right? But that's the road that we're taking."

Fletcher, a nine-year CFL veteran in his seventh season with Toronto, says he's ready to play.

"I'm healthy enough to play," he said. "I feel like I'm one of the better players in this league but I just have to go with the flow."

Fletcher began the season as a starter at linebacker and has registered 37 tackles, leaving him fifth on the squad. Last year, he named to the All-Time Argos list as one of the best players in club history.

Now, he's on the outside looking in.

Matthews hasn't spoken to Fletcher personally but said that defensive co-ordinator Kavis Reed was going to. When Matthews learned that Reed was getting together with Fletcher, he told the assistant coach to inform Fletcher to come speak to Matthews about his situation.

"Kavis was going to talk to him this week and I said, `You tell him to come talk to me so I can explain to him,' but he (Fletcher) has chosen not to do that," Matthews said. "From my report from Kavis, he (Fletcher) said he was OK with the explanation he got.

"Will I speak to (Fletcher)? Absolutely. I enjoy the chance to do that but there's a couple of other things on my plate, like the guys who are playing. But I made sure the base was covered with him through Kavis."

Fletcher is the latest victim of the Argos' overhaul of its defence. Veteran safety Orlondo Steinauer was released before Labour Day while defensive back Chuck Winters was placed on the nine-game injured list and told he no longer fit in the club's plans.

As well, newcomer Claude Harriott will start for the second straight game Saturday at defensive end ahead of incumbent Riall Johnson, who missed last week's game due to groin injury but will be rotated through against Calgary with Harriott and veteran Jonathan Brown.

In that situation, Matthews said the best players will see the bulk of playing time.