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News And Notes From Day 14 Of Toronto Argonauts Training Camp

(Toronto Argonauts QB Nick Arbuckle, Photo Credit: Xs and Argos)

The Toronto Argonauts haven’t decided who their starting quarterback will be in week one of the regular season. But Nick Arbuckle‘s recent injury bears watching as the Boatmen get closer to the end of training camp.

The Toronto Argonauts are a little more than two weeks away from playing the Calgary Stampeders in their season opener. Argos coach Ryan Dinwiddie is trying to protect his team from limping to the finish line of training camp. The newly-minted head coach has canceled the team’s second Double Blue scrimmage and is proceeding with caution, specifically regarding his projected starting quarterback Nick Arbuckle.

In today’s scrum with the media, Dinwiddie mentioned that Arbuckle, who sat out last Saturday’s scrimmage due to a hamstring injury, suffered a bit of a setback in his return to the practice field. On Friday, the former Stamps QB was given the day off from practicing because he is dealing with a tweak in his hamstring. Arbuckle took what Dinwiddie called mental reps instead on Friday. The Argos are considering going with a reduced practice schedule over the weekend to guard against any more potential injuries.

When asked today if the coaching staff has decided who will be their starting QB on August 7th, Argonauts Coach Ryan Dinwiddie intimated that the competition is still ongoing in camp.

Still, many believe that Nick Arbuckle will get the first shot at captaining the Boatmen’s ship when the season arrives. Arbuckle’s knowledge of Dinwiddie’s offensive system helps Toronto if their projected starting signal-caller does miss more time. But with the season quickly approaching, preparing for Calgary in practice will become essential with the team just 15 days away from the start of the season.

Toronto Argonauts QB Room

The Toronto Argonauts now have four quarterbacks on their current roster. After bringing back former Clemson standout Kelly Bryant on Thursday. Bryant signed with the Argos earlier this year but was let go by the Boatmen a couple of months later. According to coach Dinwiddie, the team feels that Bryant has a high ceiling, and they want to further evaluate him in camp before making roster decisions at the end of July. Bryant won’t be able to practice for a few days until he clears COVID protocols.

There’s no doubt that someone of Bryant’s skillset could be an asset to Toronto’s bench and in red zone packages if he were to make the roster. But with little time remaining, it isn’t easy to envision a scenario where Bryant could land on the Argos active roster. Perhaps, he could be in future consideration for a practice squad spot.

It’s worth noting that with Arbuckle hobbled, that Kelly Bryant could be more than just a “camp arm” if things don’t improve with Arbuckle. Right now, the dynamically talented Bryant is training camp insurance, but the Argonauts won’t break the glass until an emergency.

Ben Grant from Xs and Argos astutely asked Coach Dinwiddie on Friday about his philosophy regarding quarterbacks having different skill sets on the depth chart. Dinwiddie revealed that he prefers having varying styles. As for the potential of dressing three quarterbacks in the regular season. While Coach Dinwiddie sees the value of having three quarterbacks ready on game day, his preference is to avoid dressing an extra QB because it could come at the expense of another position.

Fortunately, Toronto has the luxury of already having two capable quarterbacks with CFL starting experience behind Arbuckle in McLeod Bethel-Thompson and Antonio Pipkin. Both Pipkin and MBT have been getting plenty of first-team reps in training camp, especially with Arbuckle missing practice.

On Friday, Coach Dinwiddie spoke highly of Antonio Pipkin’s talent and progression throughout camp. The former QB, Dinwiddie, is happy to have Pipkin on the team and has talked openly to the media about how he has been working on fine-tuning his mechanics. Pipkin, the record-breaking former Tiffin standout, who once rushed for 234 yards in a single game, was the first player to ever play in the Senior Bowl for his university. It’s clear that Toronto’s staff sees Pipkin as a developmental quarterback, but the skill set and his attitude have impressed many within the team.

The engaging Antonio Pipkin, who held court with the media on Friday, spoke favorably about the talent he has been working with on the field and in the quarterback room. Pipkin finds it difficult to pinpoint one or two specific players he has been throwing the ball to in camp, but he raved about the talent surrounding him. Pipkin also spoke highly about his head coach and praised Ryan Dinwiddie for his detail-oriented nature. And how his style of coaching demands excellence.

Additional Camp Notes

  • Ryan Dinwiddie confirmed what many have already known, that he will be calling the plays on offence. He and offensive coordinator Jarious Jackson will work together in game planning during the week and on game days.
  • Wider Receivers Coach/Passing Game Coordinator Markus Howell will be assisting Coach Dinwiddie with clock and replay management on game days from the booth.
  • The Argonauts had interest in resigning the returning Rodney Smith back at the end of the 2019 season but weren’t able to iron out the numbers with him before he signed with Edmonton. When the Argos saw Smith on waivers, they decided to bring him into the fold and give him a chance to compete.
  • Coach Dinwiddie talked about how his star-studded defence on Friday and how it has given his offence a great challenge in camp. He feels that the offensive unit could benefit from the high level of competition and that his defence has given them a lot of looks in camp and the teams speed on the defensive side of the ball will be quality prep for their week one opponent in the Stamps.
  • When asked about the teams defensive backfield and who has stepped up this summer. Dinwiddie singled out Chris Edwards at Sam, with Shaq Richardson locking down the boundary spot and Crezdon Butler/Jeff Richards at free safety/field halfback. Defensive Back Arjen Coulqhoun is currently banged up, and hasn’t been practicing but the team is looking forward to his return. Dinwiddie called the competition at corner wide open.

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Mike Mitchell Reporter
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