And so it begins again. The Argos began their 2022 campaign squaring off with the Alouettes, and they will end the regular season battling their longtime rivals for an Eastern crown. Toronto has back-to-back games with Montreal. Starting with a trip to Molson Stadium this coming Saturday evening. And then precisely one week later, a follow-up meeting at BMO Field in the regular season finale. In a game that could be for all the marbles or one that could mean nothing at all.
A Tale Of Two Different Argos And Alouettes Teams
A lot has changed since the last time the Argos and Alouettes clashed on June 16th. On that night, Toronto edged past Montreal 20-19, thanks to a missed 20-yard David Cote field goal in the closing seconds.
Flashing back to four months ago, Toronto was debuting a revamped roster and coaching staff in front of their home crowd. All eyes were on future hall of fame RB Andrew Harris as a new captain on the Argonauts ship.
Montreal was without superstar running back William Stanback, who the Als lost to injury in their opener; head coach Khari Jones was leading the way, with Vernon Adams as his starting quarterback.
In the weeks and months that followed since the Toronto-Montreal clash back in Week 2. The Argos would eventually lose Andrew Harris to injury. Along with four other starters who opened the Boatmen’s season against the Als. DE Shane Ray, LB Wynton McManis, CB Robertson Daniel, and LT Trevon Tate.
The Alouettes have had a more extensive facelift than Toronto since their Week 2 heartbreak in the Six. A game in which, then out in the wide-open Alouettes, minority owner Gary Stern guaranteed that his team “would kill Toronto.”
After a 1-3 start to their season, head coach Khari Jones was fired by Montreal. GM Danny Maciocia would come down from upstairs to overtake the reins. Vernon Adams was benched permanently in favor of Trevor Harris and then was subsequently traded to B.C. to help the Leos fill the void of injured superstar pivot Nathan Rourke. Minority Alouettes owner Gary Stern even took himself out of the equation, announcing that he was stepping away from the club’s day-to-day operations and his position on the CFL board of governors.
Flash forward to today. The 8-8 Alouettes have won seven of their last twelve games. They have clinched a playoff home game, William Stanback is back healthy, and this weekend, Montreal can take their first step towards potentially hosting an East Final by beating Toronto at home. It would set the stage for a potential takeover of the East division in Week 21. Something that didn’t look like a realistic possibility in the early summer.
Like the Alouettes, the Double Blue control their destiny at season’s end. Toronto had a topsy-turvy journey in the first half of their season. The Argos were 4-5 at the midway point. They have since won six of their last seven games, improving their overall record to 10-6.
The Boatmen didn’t get to this point as they initially envisioned. The team’s run-first philosophy was shelved when the combination of injuries to their offensive line and superstar runner set them on a different voyage.
Offensively, Toronto has become predominantly a passing team, second in the CFL with 560 pass attempts. McLeod Bethel-Thompson leads the CFL in passing yards with 4,491 yards. The Argos’ defence has also undergone a lot of changes. Reshuffling their deck primarily due to injuries. But first-time defensive coordinator Corey Mace has his unit at or near the top of every single scoring defensive category. From the fewest majors allowed to points allowed per game.
The Argos and Alouettes are not without flaws and issues heading into Week 20’s crucial matchup. However, both teams feel good about where they stand in their quest to get to the Grey Cup. Hosting the East Final will help achieve that goal. But for either team to get there, Toronto or Montreal will need to remove the other from their path forcefully.
No matter who wins the East. Theoretically, Toronto and Montreal could play each other three times in the next four weeks. So after four months of navigating their seasons on separate highways. The Argos and Aloutters share the same road.
Argos Alouettes Week 20 Injury/Practice Report
Brandon Banks has rejoined the Boatmen after missing last week’s game in Edmonton due to personal issues. Speedy B is back this week, practicing in full. OT Dejon Allen, who also missed the Elks game for a personal reason, the birth of his child, has not returned yet to practice. No word yet on his return. But Allen is a crucial piece to the Argonauts puzzle.
The Argonauts are not quite in all-hands-on-deck mode this week. A scenario where all available players suit up for battle. But they could be a week from now if the East division hasn’t been decided by then.
The Argos are practicing at Lamport Stadium until Friday before making the trek to Montreal. One player who hasn’t participated in practice for months is left tackle Isiah Cage. The team’s starter on the blindside has had two separate concussion issues this season. He missed the season’s opening due to a head injury sustained during training camp while he was at his temporary residence. The second concussion occurred when he finally returned to Toronto’s lineup after a nearly two-year hiatus from the lineup.
As reported here a few weeks back. Despite the delicate nature of the situation. Toronto has left the door open for Cage’s return. The Argonauts staff have correctly proceeded with caution with him since back in late July. Cage practiced on a limited basis to start the week. So it remains to be seen if he will suit up against Montreal. Nevertheless, it’s a positive step forward for Cage, even if it is a baby step.
Another key Argos player dealing with a head injury is DB Robert Priester.
Toronto has had a revolving door at the boundary halfback position. Priester Shaq Richardson and Maurice Carnell (injured) have all spent time playing there. With Carnell (knee) on the injured list, it’s possible that Shaq Richardson, who has been playing the SAM spot, could be shifted back to his old spot. But that would require a lot more reshuffling. Chris Edwards, who now deploys the cornerback spot, is the previous proprietor at SAM.
On Montreal’s side of the fence. The Alouettes are relatively healthy heading into Saturday. The Als only have four players apiece listed on their six and one-game injured lists. The team would love to get WR Reggie White Jr. back into their lineup. He is nursing a knee injury and not currently practicing on the one-game list.
|TORONTO ARGONAUTS||PRACTICE DAY|
|Player Name||Position||Injury||TUE||WED||THU||Game Status|
|Juwan Brescacin||WR||Healthy Scratch||Full||–|
|Deionte Knight||DL||Healthy Scratch||Full|
|MONTREAL ALOUETTES||PRACTICE DAY|
|Player Name||Position||Injury||TUE||WED||THU||Game Status|
|Reggie White Jr.||WR||Knee||DNP|
|Chris Schleuger||OL||Healthy Scratch||Full|
|Michael Wakefield||DL||Healthy Scratch||Full|
Potential Argonauts All-Stars
In a week like this, team achievements take precedence over individual honours. But with CFL All-Star fan voting in full swing, with the vote closing on Halloween. A couple of Toronto Argonaut players are leading vote-getters at their respective positions. I guess the Argos do have fans. Insert wink emoji here.
To no one’s surprise, after briefly being left off the ballot entirely. Jamal Peters, the league’s interceptions leader and one of the premier cover corners, is leading all CFL defensive backs in all-star votes. The second-year DB out of Mississippi State has great competition nipping at his heels, though.
There is a fair share of Argos snubs at the moment. Wynton McManis is amazingly not one of the league-leading vote-getters among fans. I have a feeling that coaches and fellow players will vote differently.
Argonauts special teams coordinator Mickey Donovan may not be too ecstatic after Jeremiah Haydel’s folie a Deaux performance in Alberta. But he has to be happy with the recognition his special teams’ players are getting in All-Star voting. The rookie Australian Punter John Haggerty is the leading vote-getter at his position. In his first CFL season, Haggerty leads the league in punting yards (4,814) and is third in average yards (48.6).
Boris Bede is the second-leading vote-getter at kicker. Something tells me that vocal Bede critic and CFL legend Nik Lewis didn’t place a vote for Boris.
In a stunning but pleasant surprise, Rookie RB Daniel Adeboboye is second in fan voting in the special teams’ category behind electrifying Ticats returner Lawrence Woods.
Adeboboye has been terrific in kick coverage, with 15 tackles this season. A testament to the young man’s drive to adapt to his new life in pro football after being a standout runner in college. However, it’s a surprise that he is contending for this honour. The force is strong, with the Adeboboye and Argos family pulling together for one of their own.
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