The Toronto Argonauts did end up having their second Double Blue game after all. After debating whether or not to schedule a second intrasquad scrimmage. Today, the Argos pushed forward with what could be considered a dress rehearsal for the team’s opener on August 7th.
However, the Argos started their final week of training camp without their projected starting Quarterback Nick Arbuckle on the practice field. The Argos prized free-agent quarterback has missed the last several days of practice due to a high hamstring injury.
Arbuckle also missed the team’s first Double Blue scrimmage a week ago, and when he returned to practice last week, he tweaked the injury. Since then, the team has decided to proceed with caution by not rushing him back into action. Because it’s a soft tissue injury, the concern is Arbuckle pulling his hamstring. Dinwiddie told the media today that he thinks that Arbuckle will be ready by week one of the season, but the Argos head coach stopped short of guaranteeing his return. However, Dinwiddie did entertain the possibility of Arbuckle not being ready for week one by volunteering, “If Nick’s not ready to go, I am comfortable with our other two guys.”
In the meantime, Nick Arbuckle has been throwing and jogging on the side and going through with what Argos head coach Ryan Dinwiddie has called mental reps.
The Toronto Argonauts are less than two weeks away from their regular-season opener on Saturday, August 7th, in Calgary. Arbuckle’s lack of participation in practice is cause for concern with the season fast approaching. Still, perhaps the presence of the CFL’s 2019 passing TD leader McLeod Bethel-Thompson, has the team feeling secure if, for whatever reason, Arbuckle can’t get ready in time for his former team the Stampeders.
Many teams across the CFL are still trying to determine who their #2 quarterbacks will be once the regular season starts. The Argonauts feel that they already have two #1 options in their quarterback room with Bethel-Thompson and Arbuckle. Coach Dinwiddie revealed to the media that he and Thompson had talked about him returning to the Double Blue in late 2019 and that MBT received the offensive install over a year ago. Even with the playbook in his pocket, MBT knows that nothing replaces the value of putting plans into action on the field.
“There’s nothing like reps…. Reps are like a bar of gold for a quarterback. So every single rep, I’m taking the most advantage of as possible. Just getting comfortable piecing the footwork together with the eyes. And together with the timing. You can do a bunch of things on paper but it’s not like live action…. It’s always great studying all the time but nothing replaces practice.”Toronto Argonauts Quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson to Dan Ralph of the Canadian Press on his acclimation and knowledge of the new offense and the benefits of practicing in the new system.
With Nick Arbuckle not practicing due to injury, the positive for Toronto is that McLeod Bethel-Thompson is getting significant first-team reps and practice time in Ryan Dinwiddie’s offense. Nick Arbuckle’s absence from the field has given MBT a chance to get substantial work with a sea of new faces on the Boatmen. Players like receivers Eric Rogers, Juwan Brescasin, and DaVaris Daniels. All of whom have had experience playing in the type of system that Dinwiddie has brought over from Calgary. Bethel-Thompson is getting an extended opportunity to run the Argonauts’ new offensive scheme with players he hasn’t worked with before. Each added rep and each day controlling the huddle will benefit him when the season starts.
So if and when he does captain Toronto’s ship, And the when could be week one, the battle-hardened veteran, McLeod Bethel-Thompson, will be ready.
Toronto Argonauts Training Camp/Scrimmage Notes
- The Argos had an impromptu late afternoon scrimmage today. After debating, not scheduling a second one over the last few days.
- McLeod Bethel-Thompson had a phenomenal day going 9-10 on his opening drive of the scrimmage. The Argos offence has had its struggles against its elite defence in camp. So the performance by MBT and the offence against the 1’s on defense was an encouraging sign.
- Many of the teams starters sat out today nursing minor injuries. Some were given the day off for rest purposes. As a result, a lot of the teams younger players got opportunities to have extended reps.
- Levi Noel continued his breakout campaign this summer with two touchdowns on the day. Also rising to the occasion today was second year receiver, Kurleigh Gittens Jr. He made some big plays down the field. Both players could be significant contributors on offence. Something that wasn’t projected before camp started.
- Coach Ryan Dinwiddie was pleased with the smoothness of his offensive operation in the scrimmage. He was complimentary about how both Antonio Pipkin and McLeod Bethel-Thompson handled the huddle and how they both avoided penalties. Something that was an issue in the teams first Double Blue game.
- When addressing Toronto’s deep receiving corps, Coach Dinwiddie told the media that he has an idea of who the team is going to keep and who will not make the team when final cuts are made. Dinwiddie praised the overall group’s talent level and talked about the possibility of some of the players ending up on the practice squad, while others could end up starring for other CFL teams.
- Dinwiddie also praised the performance of some of his teams younger players and sent a message to some of its veterans by saying “the older guys gottta get out of the tub to make the club”.
- RB AJ Ouellette was one of the standouts of today’s scrimmage, breaking off a few big runs. Coach Dinwiddie praised Ouellette for his pass blocking and toughness. “We love AJ” was Dinwiddie’s words of encouragement for the second year back.
- For all the talent that Toronto has on its defence. One of the players who has emerged as a superstar on the field and as a leader in the locker room is defensive back Shaquille Richardson. The 7th-year pro, has finally come into his own since joinng the Double Blue back in 2019. The versatile 29-year old defensive back, who has been on nine different pro teams in his career had high praise for Defensive Backs Coach Joshua Bell after Monday’s scrimmage. Bell is a former teammate of Richardson’s in Calgary, and has given Shaq a lot of responsibility and the coach’s energy has rubbed off on Richardson and his teammates. Bell, the former player turned coach is helping his former teammate become a coach on the field. Based on the results in camp thus far, it’s working.