The Argos returned to practice today at Lamport Stadium. Toronto began preparations for a Week 10 tilt at home this coming Wednesday night against the Ottawa Redblacks. But they might be playing this coming week without the quarterback of their offense and defense.
The Toronto Argonauts will be celebrating their legendary 1991 championship season this Wednesday at BMO Field. The Boatmen are hoping that their 2021 campaign ends up being celebrated when the smoke clears this season.
The 2021 Toronto Argonauts are currently tied for first place in the East, with Hamilton at 4-3. Pending the result of this afternoon’s Tiger-Cats/Alouettes game.
Toronto is kicking off the second half of their season with two divisional games in five days. The first at home against the 2-5 Ottawa Redblacks, and then a road trip back to Hamilton on Monday, October 11th, to face off with the Ti-Cats in their third of four regular-season meetings.
In a push for playoff positioning and potentially winning the Eastern division. There’s very little room for error in these divisional contests for the Argos. Five of Toronto’s final seven regular-season games are against divisional opponents. The month of October could determine whether or not the Boatmen will make waves in the playoffs.
As Toronto moves forward towards the second half of their season. Some significant questions are surrounding Double Blue at the quarterback position and on a defense that has struggled in recent weeks due to changes on their defensive staff and key injuries.
Nick Arbuckle Limited To Start Argos Practice Week
Quarterback Nick Arbuckle was limited in practice on Saturday due to his lingering hamstring injury. Arbuckle missed the team’s Week 8 game against Montreal as a result. The injury doesn’t appear to be a long-term issue. As evidenced by Toronto placing their starting signal-caller on their one-game injured list.
However, although Argos head coach Ryan Dinwiddie told the media today that no determination has been made on who will be starting for Toronto this Wednesday on the pivot, it appears likely that McLeod Bethel-Thompson could get the starting nod again against the Redblacks. Toronto will have three more practices on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday before playing Ottawa on Wednesday night.
Nick Arbuckle might not be able to get enough reps this week with the first team to be fully prepared for Ottawa. Much like earlier in the season, there’s a chance that Arbuckle could dress and back up McLeod Bethel-Thompson rather than starting the game.
Ryan Dinwiddie told CFLNewshub today that he was pleased with how Bethel-Thompson played against Montreal and how he managed the game and played error-free. MBT has yet to throw an interception this year. Turning the football over is something that has been a knock-on Arbuckle’s play this season. He has thrown 6 interceptions this season and has fumbled the football five times.
The next couple of days will be telling. It’s possible that Nick Arbuckle could still get the start on the pivot in week 10. But based on his limited status, there’s legitimate doubt as to whether he will. And how McLeod Bethel-Thompson performs if he does get the call against Ottawa, and then Hamilton, could determine whether or not the starting QB job is McLeod’s for the rest of the season.
Nick Arbuckle’s hamstring injury may have opened the door for him to be benched without actually being benched.
LB Henoc Muamba to miss at least two more games
In Week 7, when starting linebackers Cameron Judge and Henoc Muamba went down to injury against Saskatchewan. It initially appeared as if Maumba’s hamstring injury would be short-term, while Cameron Judge, who finished the Riders game on crutches, looked like he would be on the shelf for a long time.
However, the initial prognosis for both has completely flipped. Cameron Judge escaped serious injury with only a foot sprain, and while it appears that he won’t be active against Ottawa, he is close to returning to the lineup in the future. Toronto placed Judge on their 1-game injured list before the Montreal game in week 8.
On the other hand, Ryan Dinwiddie told CFLNewshub today that it’s likely that team captain Henoc Muamba will miss Toronto’s next two games because of his strained hamstring. Against Ottawa on Wednesday and then the following Monday in Hamilton.
The Argos defense, which was first in the league against the run, has plummeted in their last two games without Muamba and Judge.
Argos Release LB Vontae Diggs
After making two separate acquisitions at the linebacker position the last few weeks. With the team signing Noah Robinson and most recently bringing back former Argo Justin Tuggle. The Toronto Argonauts have released linebacker Vontae Diggs.
The Argos claimed Diggs off of waivers from Edmonton back in September. But Diggs struggled in the past few weeks when pressed into duty.
Against Saskatchewan, the Boatmen gave up 182 yards rushing at 5.9 yards per attempt. With Riders RB William Powell rushing for 122 yards. The following week against Montreal at home, Toronto’s defense allowed 178 yards rushing, Alouettes standout runner William Stanback generated 133 of those yards.
Toronto has linebackers Bear Woods, Jack Cassar, and Brandon Calver currently on their injured list. The team is hoping to get the promising Cassar back from injury for this Wednesday’s game against Ottawa. The Carleton standout was selected by Toronto in the second round of the 2020 CFL draft.
The Argos recently signed former Argos linebacker Justin Tuggle. But he will likely be on the team’s practice roster this week.
Vontae Diggs and Dexter McCoil both started at linebacker against the Alouettes, but with neither player being a true MACK, the team’s struggles defending the run up the middle may continue. Toronto is looking for better options on the MIKE with Muamba out of the mix.
Double Blue Defensive Debuts For Drake Nevis & Cordarro Law
Both Cordarro Law and Drake Nevis have continued practicing in a limited fashion. The two veterans have yet to suit up for the Boatmen this season. Law (knee) and Nevis (hip/back) sat out the team’s first seven games of the season.
Ryan Dinwiddie told CFLNewshub today that both veterans are looking better and getting closer to being active for the first time this year. One of the league’s very best run stoppers, Nevis would provide a huge boost to the Argos run defense. Law could help draw some attention away from Charleston Hughes, who has two sacks on the season.
Chris Jones, who has used the bye week to start implementing some of his terminologies and play calls, could use the veteran reinforcements as his defense takes shape in the second half of the Argos season.
Potential Rust Coming Off Of The Argos Bye?
There is always the concern that a team will be sluggish coming off a layoff. Toronto had the entire week off after last Friday’s victory over Montreal. Head Coach Ryan Dinwiddie was pleased with his team’s pace of play at Saturday’s practice.
Dinwiddie was happy that his players were ready to get after things coming off their bye week. The team understands the importance of their next seven games. Last week, Ryan Dinwiddie told the media that he considers this stretch of the season a playoff-like period of its own.
It’s been a few years since the Argos have played meaningful games down the stretch of their season. The team is happy to be in contention at the midway point, but you get the sense that Dinwiddie, his staff, and the organization have loftier expectations. Perhaps as lofty as what the football club accomplished 30 years ago in 1991.