The Toronto Argonauts were back for day two of training camp on Friday. The Argos will be playing their first preseason game in three years a week from now, as they will travel to Ottawa to face the REDBLACKS at TD Place.
The Boatmen are still going through a feeling-out process at training camp as they prepare for the first of two preseason games. They practiced Friday morning at the University of Guelph, the team’s 2022 training camp home.
There was plenty of team news today that will help shape the upcoming week for Double Blue.
Toronto Argonauts Training Camp News And Notes
Argos Welcome DT Deionte Knight
The Argos officially welcomed second-round DT Deionte Knight into the fold on Friday. The team announced the signing of their 10th overall selection on social media. All of the Argos rookie draft picks are now under contract and in tow for training camp.
After recently working out for NFL teams, Knight has finally made his way to the Six. In a recent interview, the Western Mustangs superstar defensive lineman told CBC News that while he still has designs on an NFL future, he is looking forward to showcasing his talents in Toronto this coming season.
I’m going to play out the season in Toronto and then see what happens next, it all depends on what I do out in the field, and what kind of production I have. After that, I can see what my options are in terms of the NFL tryouts or workouts, so I know that the NFL journey is just beginning and it’s not the end for sure.Toronto Argonauts DL Deionte Knight to CBC News 5/17
It will be interesting to see how quickly Knight works into the mix. The Argos have some star-studded players in Shane Ray and CFL All-Stars JaGared Davis and Shawn Oakman. But the J.P. Metras award winner in 2021 for Canada’s best collegiate linemen, Knight, has the versatility to play anywhere upfront. At Western, he played a variety of positions, on the inside and outside. Argos’ defensive coordinator Corey Mace will be looking to ease him into the rotation. But Knight is a rookie who could immediately be playing significant snaps this coming season.
Toronto Argonauts DB Arjen Colquhoun Moved To Retired List
As the great Ferris Bueller once said decades ago, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Things change quickly in football. In 2020, Arjen Colquhoun was a prized free-agent signing by the Toronto Argonauts.
“The Canadian Flash,” a Windsor, Ontario native, was supposed to be one of the Boatmen’s most versatile standouts in their secondary. However, the 2020 season was canceled. Arjen Colquhoun, the former second-round pick of Edmonton, was projected by many to be a pivotal player in Toronto’s secondary in 2021. At the very least, the Michigan state standout, Colquhoun, who was ranked fourth by the CFL’s Scouting Bureau when he was drafted into the league, was supposed to contribute significantly on special teams.
But in 2021, Arjen Colquhoun was slowed by injuries leading into and starting the season. He played in seven regular-season games, where he had four defensive tackles, and one special teams tackle. But in what would be his final game with Toronto. He suffered a brutal leg injury against the Montreal Alouettes. Colquhoun was stretchered off the field as players from both sides greeted the heartbroken and fallen athlete.
One of the hang-ups in the recent CBA talks was players looking for injury coverage. Because, as evidenced by what happened to Colquhoun, your entire life and career can change at a moment’s notice.
Here’s hoping that if this end of Arjen Colquhoun’s playing career, he finds happiness in the next chapter of his life.
Toronto Argonauts Getting Back LT Isaiah Cage
One of the often-overlooked aspects of the Argos’ successful 2021 campaign is that, by far, they endured the most injuries in the league. Toronto had so many players on the injured list that they had to get creative and trade away quarterback Nick Arbuckle just to stay under the salary cap. Toronto couldn’t afford to add any salary, so they took on a second-round pick from Edmonton and the negotiation rights to QB Chad Kelly.
The Argonauts’ struggled with several critical injuries throughout and at the end of the 2021 season. Perhaps, the most significant one came at the end of last year’s training camp. In a freak occurrence, starting left tackle, Isaiah Cage was rolled up on by a teammate and injured his ankle. The worst fears were realized when it was revealed that Cage had suffered a broken ankle and would miss the entire season. The Boatmen had lost arguably their best pass protector.
American rookie Dejon Allen stepped in and did a fine job starting every game on the blindside a year ago. But the Argos are happy to have Isiah Cage back and healthy for 2022. And Cage himself, who has been accustomed to suffering setbacks during his time with Toronto, expressed positivity coming off a long rehab process to Frank Zicarelli of the Toronto Sun.
“I’m definitely primed to have a good year,’’ “Working on my playbook, knocking this rust off, I’m looking to have a good year.”
You could argue that with beloved veteran OT Jamal Campbell gone, there is no more important player on Toronto’s offensive line than Isiah Cage. His health and presence will make things easier on McLeod Bethel Thompson. And will give the Argonauts’ coaching staff the flexibility of choosing who will emerge at the right tackle spot this year. Dejon Allen, who can also play guard and centre, figures to be in the mix. But a national player like Shane Richards and Americans like Martez Ivey and Trevon Tate could also get a shot on the right side. Especially now that Theren Churchill has announced that he is stepping away momentarily from football to help his girlfriend with the birth of his first child.
Toronto Argonauts Bloated Roster Gets Reprieve
The CFL announced on Friday that teams won’t have to pare down their roster to 75 plus noncounters until after their first preseason games are played. Before the player strike halted things, Cutdowns were supposed to commence earlier this week, with teams going to 85 and 75 when training camps started. This is welcome news for the coaching staff and Argonauts players on the bubble who are hoping to make an impression and land on the roster.
No one told me that math would be involved, but the Toronto Argonauts currently have over 100 players on their active roster. Now that Deionte Knight has officially signed on with the team.
The Argonauts are in an interesting situation because they do not play in week one. They have a bye week to open things and won’t start the regular season until Thursday, June 16th, against the Montreal Alouettes at BMO Field. That’s 13 days after Toronto’s second and last preseason game.
The exhibition tilts will be crucial to the Argos’ largely revamped coaching staff and, ultimately, the players on the fringe.
In his training camp diary at Argonauts.ca, Mike Hogan wrote about the successful first-day hookups between McLeod Bethel-Thompson and American import Cam Phillips. MBT connected with Cam Phillips for two TDs during drills on day one of camp, one down the left sidelines in stride that went for a 70-yard TD. The other, Bethel-Thompson, connected with Phillips on a crossing route in tight coverage – where the ball was tipped in the air, and Phillips caught it, and then ran 40 yards to the end zone.
Cam Phillips, a record-breaking receiver at Virginia Tech, who was a superstar in the XFL back in 2020, spent practically the entire 2021 season on the Argos practice squad. Phillips didn’t see regular-season action until the team’s exhibition-style finale against Edmonton, catching two passes for 20 yards.
On paper, the odds appear to be heavily against Phillips cracking the team’s lineup in a very deep receiver pool. After all, the Argos have Eric Rogers, DeVaris Daniels, Kurleigh Gittens Jr., Juwan Brescasin, Markeith Ambles, Brandon Banks, and Dejon Brissett, among others. The numbers game is definitely against Cam Phillips.
But after a year of learning the nuances of the Canadian Game. And perhaps through the benefit of preseason action. Phillips could defy the odds and secure an active roster spot.
Chris Edwards Pending Six-Game Suspension
One of the most prominent question marks surrounding the Argos’ defense during training camp and the preseason will be who will step up on the roster to replace Chris Edwards at the crucial SAM spot when he misses action to start the year. Edwards was suspended by the league for six games for his actions in defense of teammates who were attacked by unruly fans at the East Final.
While talking to reporters after practice, Head Coach Ryan Dinwiddie said they are still going through the process of appealing the six-game suspension handed to SAM linebacker Chris Edwards. In the meantime, newly-minted defensive coordinator Corey Mace and his staff have to prepare for life without one of the CFL’s best defensive backs.
The early candidates for Edwards’ role could vary. Robertson Daniel figures to be in the early running to assume the pivotal role. But with Toronto having so much depth and versatility on the back end of their defence. It’s possible that players like DaShaun Amos could see some action at SAM. Quality options abound, but it will be challenging to fill the ultra-talented Chris Edwards’s cleats.
Next Friday’s first preseason game should be the first step in helping determine who will.