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All Hands on Deck: Argonauts Rookies Tested in Montreal

The Argos got a good look at their rookies Saturday in Montreal. Among other positions it was a good chance to let their quarterbacks show what they’ve got.

With one preseason game in the books one question remains among Argo fans: who will be the starting quarterback in 2024?

While Chad Kelly serves a minimum 9-game suspension Cameron Dukes was naturally thought to be the next man up. That said, Nick Arbuckle was signed for a reason: to create competition for the starting job.

Three quarterbacks suited up for the Argos on Saturday in Montreal. Cameron Dukes started the game and went 4 for 6 for 51 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception. Dukes rushed the ball twice for 15 yards. Dukes threw his interception with 2:28 remaining in the 1st quarter and did not return. Dukes has played 18 CFL games with 2 career starts. He has a career completion rate of 65.6 per cent on 96 attempts, nabbing 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions along the way.

Arbuckle entered the game with 30 seconds remaining in the 1st quarter, only playing the 2nd quarter. Arbuckle went 7 for 13 good for 93 yards. Arbuckle took one rush for 6 yards. Arbuckle has entered 78 CFL games in his career, 7 of which were for the Argonauts in 2021. He has a career completion rate of 68.2 percent and has thrown 7,156 yards, 23 touchdowns and 29 interceptions.

Bryan Scott came out to play the second half. On the day Scott completed 10 of 20 passes for 109 yards. He made 3 carries for 31 yards, his longest going 16 yards.

The Argonauts lost some essential players this offseason, particularly at running back. Both Andrew Harris and AJ Ouellette are gone, replaced by Ka’Deem Carey. Carey only had 3 carries 19 yards. Deonta McMahon had 24 yards rushing on 2 carries in addition to 31 receiving yards on 2 receptions. McMahon also made 1 kick return for 23 yards.

All-in-all it was a quiet day for the Argonauts running backs. Ka’Deem Carey, Deonta McMahon, Khalan Laborn and Spencer Nichols combined for 47 yards on 9 carries. The three quarterbacks had a combined 52 yards on 6 carries.

Well Received

Rookie receiver Kevin Mital made good on the 3 times he was targeted, getting 3 receptions for 37 yards, 21 YAC yards. Makai Polk, another rookie receiver, was targeted 5 times through the game, making 2 receptions for 15 yards. Second year Argo Richard Sindani was targeted 6 times, making 3 receptions for 36 yards. Tommy Nield made 3 receptions for 28 yards and Justin Marshall made 2 receptions for 28 yards and a touchdown.

Rookie Jordan Byrd was targeted once, finishing the day with 1 reception for 24 yards, 24 YAC yards. Byrd returned 3 kickoffs a total of 61 yards, his longest going 24 yards. He also took back 4 punts for 65 yards the longest going 37 yards.

Young Defense Looks Strong

Tavarus McFadden had a busy first half, making 6 tackles. Rookie linebacker Isaac Darkangelo put himself atop the stat sheet as well recording 5 defensive tackles and 2 special teams tackles. First year cornerback Darius Joiner a great presence in the defensive backfield, staying closely engaged on each receiver he encountered, finishing the day with 3 tackles.

Rookie linebacker Khalan Tolson made 3 tackles. The 5’11 231 pound American made 130 total tackles in college and 2.5 interceptions. First year cornerback Tyshon Blackburn made 2 tackles and rookie defensive lineman Derek Parish made 2 tackles while Jordan Williams had 2 tackles and 1 sack.

The positive rookie presence makes trimming the final roster a tough task for coach Dinwiddie and his staff. Ultimately this is a good problem to have. While the defence surrendered more than 370 yards they will hold strong once they have a final lineup of rookies and veterans.

Toronto plays their final preseason game Friday at 6:00 central when they host the Tigercats.

author avatar
Matthew Harrison
Since my I attended my first Blue Bomber game at Canad Inns Stadium in the very early 2000s, I have been a passionate follower of the CFL. Watching from home week in and week out or spending an evening losing my voice at a game, I have always loved this league. This year I'll be covering the Calgary Stampeders and the Toronto Argonauts, two promising teams, each with a chip on their shoulder coming into 2024. Follow me here to stay up to date with what you need to know going into gameday.
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