One week, it's Winnipeg's Matt Dunigan. Another night, Calgary's Doug Flutie.
One maddening CFL quarterback after another. Scramblers. Throwers. Masters of improvisation.
Then there's Shreveport's Terrence Jones, a player many rungs down the ladder. A player trying to get untracked last night after two earlier showings that ranged from average to downright ugly.
Again, this wouldn't be his night to threaten the upper echelon. Rather than climb to new heights, the Baltimore CFLs' defense shoved him further.
Thanks to Baltimore's relentless pass rush and tight coverage in the secondary, Jones looked desperate at times. He could do little to beat the heat. And Shreveport couldn't beat the CFLs, losing, 40-24, at Memorial Stadium.
The first play of Shreveport's opening series: Jearld Baylis and O. J. Brigance chase Jones out of the pocket and toward the sideline. His desperation pass is nearly intercepted by Ken Watson.
Second play: A strong rush up the middle by Robert Presbury leads to another incompletion.
And so it went, until Jones engineered an 84-yard drive on Shreveport's fifth possession. Before that, he had drilled a ball into the turf to avoid a sack by outside linebacker Tracey Gravely. He had been dragged down from behind by Brigance. He had a pass intercepted by Charles Anthony. And he needed some nimble footwork to buy enough time to find someone open.
"We looked at Terrence as being a little different because he's more of a runner like Tracy [Ham]," said Baylis, making a comparison to Baltimore's quarterback. "He likes to get out on the corner and turn it up. That was one of the things we had to really look out for."
Two weeks ago, Jones opened the season at Ottawa by going 1-for-20 for 9 yards, a CFL record for futility.
Last week he showed marked improvement -- how could he do any worse? -- when he completed 15 of 31 passes for 251 yards against Toronto. The Pirates lost both games.
They hung close for a while last night, but just when Jones appeared to have his team rolling, someone for Baltimore would come up with a big play.
Early in the third quarter, with Baltimore leading 12-10, Baylis caused a fumble that Matt Goodwin recovered in mid-air and returned to the Shreveport 19. Mike Pringle scored on the next play.
Shreveport was forced to punt on its next series after Irvin Smith deflected a pass.
Presbury would get a sack. Baylis narrowly beat Brigance and middle linebacker Earnest Fields to another.
By now, it was open season on Jones (17-for-32, 247 yards), who was replaced by Tom Muecke late in the game. Muecke threw for 146 yards and a touchdown, but also was flattened by Presbury in the last 30 seconds.
And to make matters worse, the Pirates kept putting the ball on the ground, committing five turnovers.
Presbury had six tackles, three sacks and numerous hurries. "I didn't play well in the first half, blowing assignments. I came in and rededicated myself at halftime," he said.
What kind of night was it for Baltimore's defense? Jesse Becton, who began the season on the practice roster before being activated this week to replace injured Alvin Walton at outside linebacker, recovered two fumbles in the fourth quarter.
Everyone got into the act.
"The coaches put together a great game plan," said Becton.