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Argos Gearing Up For First Big Test Of The Season

The 1-0 Argos sit atop the East in a division that is a combined 1-6 after two weeks in the 2022 CFL season. Toronto’s victory came against Eastern rival Montreal at home last Thursday night. The law of averages will eventually balance itself out as the long season progresses. But for the moment, it’s Toronto and three winless teams inhabiting the East.

EAST DIVISION

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1 Toronto1100220191-0-00-0-01-0-0
2 Ottawa2020029380-1-00-1-00-0-0
3 Hamilton2020043630-1-00-1-00-0-0
4 Montreal2020046500-0-00-2-00-1-0

Least Of The East

Before the CFL season started, many experts declared that this could be the magical year that the East produced a cross-over team in the playoffs. But as we head into week three, the doubters of that declaration are smiling from ear to ear. The West has conquered the East so far. Will it continue in the coming weeks?

The truth is that when you peel back the layers of Ottawa, Montreal, and Hamilton’s 0-2 records. Things are not as bad as they appear on the surface. You see three teams that have lost closely contested games.

The improved Redblacks have stood toe to toe with the defending CFL champion Bombers in back-to-back games. Hamilton is coming off a brutal 24-3 collapse at home against Calgary, where they fell in overtime 33-30. And the Alouettes have lost two heartbreakers to start their 2022 campaign. The latter, a gift from the football gods to the Boatmen, when David Cote shanked a 21-yard field goal in the game’s climax.

After last Thursday’s Argos-Als game, there won’t be another East division matchup until week 6. So every team in the division will be facing off with teams from the West until then.

Montreal has their home opener against 2-0 Saskatchewan on Thursday night, and Hamilton is headed to Winnipeg to play the Bombers on Friday. While Ottawa has the week off. Eventually, the Ticats and Alouettes will notch their first victories. But it’s within the realm of possibility that both teams could be 0-3 after this upcoming weekend.

The Argos can start to create some early separation from their East rivals if they can fare better than their Eastern counterparts have in cross-divisional games. Toronto will not play an East team until they host Ottawa in week eight on Sunday, July 31st. The Boatmen will play four West teams in five weeks, with a bye week sandwiched in between.

The Argos First Big Road Test

The Argos have upcoming games at home on July 4th against Winnipeg and then play a home and home series with Saskatchewan coming off their bye. But before the Boatmen can even think about those contests, they are making their first road voyage of the season, heading to Vancouver to face off with the equally 1-0 B.C. Lions this coming Saturday. The Lions have a week off to prepare for the Argonauts.

The Leos are quickly becoming the darlings of the CFL. Canada’s new favored sons, thanks to a positive change in ownership, and an emerging National star at quarterback in Nathan Rourke. The Lions are coming off one of the best season debuts of any CFL team in recent memory. On the field and at the box office. B.C. devoured the Edmonton Elks 59-15 in front of 34,000 plus fans in week one.

On the flip side, the Argos’ season debut wasn’t pretty. They barely squeaked out a victory at home in front of 12,498 fans. The Toronto faithful on hand was terrific, but the team on the field had a shaky opening night performance.

The Argonauts will have to play better in Week 3 to beat the upstart Lions at BC Place. It seems like an eternity ago, and both teams have changed a lot in the last few years. But the last time, Toronto played BC on a Saturday night during the regular season. The Double Blue was left black and blue after the Leos obliterated them 55-8. Very few Argos and Leos remain from that debacle. But things can turn ugly fast if you don’t bring your A-game on the road.

Labeling a team’s second game as a measuring stick seems far-fetched. But we will find a lot about the type of team the 2022 Argos are this coming weekend.

Argos Week 3 Injury Report

The Argos kicked off their practice week on Monday at Lamport Stadium.

Toronto had their fair share of injuries going into and coming out of their home opener. All eyes were on superstar RB Andrew Harris after he left Thursday’s game in the second half with tightness in his hamstring.

The good news is that Andrew Harris was back on the practice field to start the week. An MRI on his hamstring proved negative. The future first-ballot Hall of Famer amassed over 100 yards in his Double Blue debut. He will be back in the starting lineup in Week 3 against the team, he began his CFL career with, the B.C. Lions.

Andrew Harris told Frank Zicarelli of the Toronto Sun “You’ll see a big difference from Week 1 to Week 2 from us”.

The bad news for Toronto is that Week 2 starting CB, Robertson Daniel will be out six to eight weeks with a hamstring tear. Toronto is hoping to get back Jamal Peters, who missed the opener due to a knee injury. Option C, Caleb Holden was thrown into the fire against Montreal. The CFL neophyte had a few positive moments but struggled to keep with all-world receiver Geno Lewis. Next up on the docket, are Lucky Whitehead, and Argos; killer Bryan Burnham.

Jamal Peters and Robert Priester were dressed but didn’t practice on Monday. So the Argos secondary is a concern moving forward.

The Argos entered week 2 with five different players on their six-game injured list. WR’s Juwan Brescasin, Eric Rogers, C Peter Nicastro, OL Dylan Giffen, and DT Deionte Knight. Players can be pulled off the six-game designation beforehand, but salary cap ramifications are involved.

Unfortunately, veterans like Juwan Brescasin and Eric Rogers have had trouble staying healthy. Both had injury-marred 2021 seasons. Fortunately for Toronto, they have a very deep receiving corps.

Toronto was awfully thin on their offensive line heading into their first game, dressing only seven linemen. It almost came back to haunt them when OT Dejon Allen was ejected from the Montreal game. However, Shane Richards stepped in and did a great job replacing Allen. Toronto could see Isiah Cage make his 2022 debut after sitting out last week due to a head injury. Trevon Tate started in Cage’s place.

The Argos also hope to get OL Theren Churchill back in the future to help fortify their depth. Toronto’s first-round pick in 2020, has been away from the team, aiding his partner during the latter stages of pregnancy. A day before Father’s day, Theren Churchill took to social media to announce that he and his partner welcomed their child into the world this past Friday.

There was some concern about Shane Ray, who appeared to suffer an injury late in Thursday’s opener. Especially after he struggled to stay healthy in his first year in the CFL in 2021. But Ray appears to be fine, and ready to build upon what he and his teammates did in their first game. The Argos defence led by BC native, and first-time coordinator Corey Mace knows that his unit needs to have a more complete effort against the Lions for four quarters than they did last week.

That’s week 3’s theme for Toronto, raising the level of their play to meet their high expectations and standards.

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