Pickett getting to know Stamps

Cody Pickett is getting to see a lot of the Calgary Stampeders.

Markus Howell and the Calgary Stampeders are hoping to use the game against the Toronto Argonauts tonight as a chance to get their season back on track.

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Cody Pickett is getting to see a lot of the Calgary Stampeders.

The third-year player will make his second straight start of the season and fourth of his CFL career today when the Toronto Argonauts (2-5) host Calgary (3-4) at the Rogers Centre (TSN, 5:30 p.m.).

The Argos will look to break a club-record nine-game home losing streak but this will mark the third time Pickett has faced the Stampeders as a starter.

“Yeah, the only two games I played last year were against Calgary,” Pickett said with a chuckle. “They’re a good defence, a good all-around team. We’ll have to take care of the ball to be successful.”

That’s an understatement.

Calgary’s defence returned three turnovers for touchdowns in a lopsided 44-9 home win over Toronto on July 17. Kerry Joseph was the Argos starter and threw for 305 yards but also had two interceptions returned for TDs and was sacked six times.

But Calgary defensive back Dwight Anderson, who had one of Calgary’s interception TDs, says that game is ancient history.

“You have to come to every game prepared, it doesn’t matter who’s starting,” he said.

“Cody has a good arm, he likes to sit back there and can pick you apart when he goes through his reads.

“We did have three TDs, but you have to remember they remember that too. It’s always harder when you play a team the second time around. We’ve both had a week off and both had time to gameplan each other.”

Pickett didn’t fare much better in his two starts against Calgary last year. He finished 45-of-76 passing for 414 yards with no touchdowns and an interception as Toronto lost both contests by scores of 34-4 and 44-16.

But the former University of Washington star performed admirably in his ’09 debut Aug. 14. Pickett was 25-of-40 passing for 326 yards and a touchdown in a 36-28 loss to B.C., a win the Lions captured after outscoring Toronto 22-3 in the fourth quarter.

John Hufnagel, the Stampeders head coach and GM, had nothing but praise for Pickett on Thursday.

“I always thought when I evaluated him coming out of college that Cody was an excellent quarterback prospect and he’s on his way,” Hufnagel said. “I’m hoping the results are the same but I believe he is a quarterback that can play in this league.”

Both teams come into today’s game with losing records, mainly because of an inability to finish games.

The Argos dropped a 46-36 decision to Saskatchewan on July 11, thanks to the Riders scoring 30 second-quarter points. They also suffered a 13-12 defeat to Winnipeg on July 18 when Jason Medlock’s 57-yard field goal try hit the crossbar. It came after Toronto took a 10-yard time-count violation.

Toronto is a dismal 0-3 at home under first-year head coach Bart Andrus.

Saskatchewan beat Calgary 24-23 on Aug. 1 on Chris Getzlaf’s 65-yard TD catch late in the fourth quarter. Then on Aug. 13, Edmonton outscored the Stampeders 17-7 in the fourth for a 38-35 victory.

“You never want to lose a football game, but losing two of them the way we did was pretty disheartening,” said Hufnagel. “We just got to get it into the players’ minds that the game is never over.

“There’s too much parity in the league and we have to finish games.”

Stampeders quarterback Henry Burris took a more philosophical approach.

“I always say your record should be what it should be,” he said. “But I’d rather those things happen early in the season . . . we have a number of young guys on this team and we can learn how to get over these situations and respond to them much better when it really counts.”

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