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Veteran Dwight Anderson to make debut in Toronto Argonauts secondary

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TORONTO - No Jon Cornish, no Nik Lewis, no Maurice Price, no tears from Dwight Anderson.

Anderson will make his Toronto debut Saturday night when the Argonauts (1-1) host a short-handed Calgary squad at Rogers Centre. The Stampeders will be minus running back Cornish — the CFL's outstanding player last year — and receivers Nik Lewis (both concussion symptoms) and Maurice Price (broken hand).

But Anderson, who helped Calgary (1-0) win the 2008 Grey Cup, isn't feeling sorry for his former team.

"Not at all," Anderson said. "You can't feel sorry for nobody in this league because at the end of the day nobody is going to feel sorry for you.

"They're going to line up and come after you so you've got to be prepared for whatever they throw at you."

Canadian Matt Walter and American Jock Sanders will split running back duties against Toronto while Joe West comes off the injured list to line up at receiver. The offensive line also receives a boost with the return of tackle Dan Federkeil.

"Over the years if you look at Calgary they've had a lot of injuries and a lot of guys have stepped in and done well," Anderson said. "Cornish is down but (Walter and Sanders) are going to share the load.

"Nik went down, Joe West stepped in. They're not leaving too much firepower out, they're bringing in firepower so you've got to be on your toes. That's what I've told these guys here, they're a vertical team. Bo (starter Bo Levi Mitchell) has a strong arm and can scramble."

Anderson, 33, will start at halfback with just one week of practice under his belt. Toronto acquired the eight-year veteran Monday from the Saskatchewan Roughriders, just two days after defeating the defending Grey Cup champions 48-15 at Rogers Centre.

To add insult to injury, Anderson endured the lopsided loss on his 33rd birthday. But Anderson said his transition in Toronto has been seamless because the Argos' defence is very similar to the one he played in while with the Montreal Alouettes (2011-'12).

Toronto defensive co-ordinator Tim Burke held the same post with Montreal from 2008-'10 and although he'd left La Belle Province by the time Anderson arrived, the Alouettes still used many of Burke's defensive principles when Anderson was with them.

"It's been busy, a lot of running around (since trade) but as far as the playbook goes it pretty much came back to me from the Montreal days," Anderson said. "I think the coaches were kind of surprised I picked it up so quickly but (when) you've been in this game long enough nothing is too difficult."

Argos head coach Scott Milanovich is hoping the vocal Anderson, who's regarded as the CFL's top trash talker, can be a positive contributor to Toronto's young, inexperienced defence.

"Dwight's an intelligent player," Milanovich said. "I expect Dwight to be what he's always been, and that's a playmaker, aggressive, emotional.

"I think our defence could use a little of that. Dwight's somebody you have to account for and always know where he's at because he can change the game. You make one mistake, he can take it the other way."

Milanovich said the Argos can't afford take Calgary for granted.

"If we think the fact Jon isn't playing can give us an opportunity to relax, that's going to burn us," Milanovich said. "Calgary has proven over the years their depth is as good as anybody's.

"They've always been able to slip guys in, even at quarterback, and still have success and not miss a beat. They (Argos players) know how much I respect this team and this coaching staff and anybody who has been in the league long enough should have the same respect for them."

Toronto is also hurting offensively as receivers Andre Durie (clavicle) and Jason Barnes (knee) won't play. Rookies Anthony Coombs — the Argos '14 first-round draft pick — and Darvin Adams will step in at slotback and wide receiver, respectively.

Defensively, Matt Ware returns at cornerback from the injured list while safety Jermaine Gabriel gets a second straight start with incumbent Matt Black injured. Milanovich said, like Calgary, the Argos have always managed to get solid play from their backups and he's expecting the same Saturday.

"It's become the expectation here with the players in the locker-room," Milanovich said. "It doesn't necessarily make you feel all that warm and fuzzy but I've got to the point where I trust that the next guy is going to step up and do his job and I think a large part of that is how our team handles it.

"They don't blink, they have faith in the guys next to them. I expect those guys to play well."

Both starting quarterbacks are coming off solid performances.

Toronto's Ricky Ray threw for 407 yards and three touchdowns against Saskatchewan last weekend. Mitchell finished 16-of-25 passing for 313 yards and two TDs in a season-opening 29-8 win over Montreal on June 28. The Stamps had a bye last week.

Mitchell is 4-0 as a starter but Anderson said the Calgary quarterback is a dual threat.

"Bo is a scrambler," he said. "If things break down he can get out on the edge . . . stay with your guy and lock on because what he's looking for once he starts scrambling is that open receiver when they go to their scramble offence.

"But if you lock on and let the front do their work then everything will be all right."

Mitchell will make his third career start on the road and said he relishes playing away from McMahon Stadium.

"It's harder to win on the road and I think that's why I take such a challenge to it," he said. "I think there's nothing better in football than silencing a stadium . . . it's a great feeling."

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