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The Argos Offseason Superstar Acquistions Fail To Make Waves

The Argos went for it all this offseason signing three veteran superstars in RB Andrew Harris, WR Brandon Banks, and DE Ja’Gared Davis. Two of those three are already out of the picture. Andrew Harris is gone for the year, and JaGared Davis will be on the shelf for six weeks due to a meniscus injury. Brandon Banks has been largely missing in action for the Double Blue all season.

The tentative leaders in the East, the 4-5 Toronto Argonauts, have a third date in their last four weeks with 3-7 Hamilton Friday night at BMO. Ironically enough, two of the players who were supposed to aid the Argos in winning the East again are former Ticats, who have been non-factors this season.

Argos All-In Approach Not Paying Dividends

The Boatmen haven’t gotten the bang for their buck with their three prized offseason acquisitions. Andrew Harris, Ja’Gared Davis, and Brandon Banks. The well-decorated trio was supposed to propel the 2021 East Division champion Argos to a potential Grey Cup in Regina.

The Argos were banking on all three players having one last run of top-notch play left in them. However, the legitimate fears attached to each player when they arrived in the Six have come to fruition.

In the case of future first ballot Hall of Fame RB Andrew Harris. The wheels were coming off before his season-ending pec injury. Due to poor play from a makeshift offensive line. To his credit, The 35-year-old Harris was second in the CFL in rushing before his year came to an abrupt end.

However, the other two high-profile signings, Davis and Banks, have made little to no impact on the Toronto Argonauts.

A year after single-handedly beating Toronto in the East Final. The Argos made a huge splash coaxing star pass rusher Ja’Gared Davis away from the Tiger-Cats. The 2021 East Division All-Star, who has played in five straight Grey Cups, appears to be on the verge of snapping his championship game playing streak.

Davis has had an uneventful run thus far with the Boatmen. In nine games, he has registered only two sacks and 19 tackles. Against Calgary, Davis went down with a knee injury, and he is currently in a walking boot. No surgery is required; Davis will undergo a rehab process on his knee with the hope of returning later this season.

The soon-to-be 32-year-old looks a step slower than he has in recent years. So it’s fair to wonder how much gas he has left in the tank. Based on the early returns, it appears that there isn’t much there. For now, third-year player Robbie Smith will take Davis’s spot in the lineup.

Brandon Banks, the 34-year-old former league MOP, also appears to be on his last legs. At one point, ‘Speedy B’ came close to rapidly being shown the door by Toronto. A sideline blow-up between Banks and his teammates in Week 4 against Winnipeg led to GM Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons heading to the sidelines to play traffic cop. After Brandon’s outburst, Ryan Dinwiddie made some strong post-game comments about getting rid of players who weren’t with the program.

Banks survived the chopping block. But the team’s faith in him hasn’t been rewarded. Banks is tied for third on the team with 46 pass targets. But is sixth on the team in pass receptions with only 20 in nine games played. Banks is fifth on the team in receiving yards with 285 yards. He has scored three touchdowns, but he has been largely invisible every week.

It got to the point with Speedy B that when Eric Rogers returned from injury for one week. Banks was relegated to the bench. Banks has struggled to develop chemistry with his QB and within the offence. He has been a fish out of water in the Six. The Argos have attempted to get some value on Banks in the return game. But he has averaged under 7 yards per punt return.

Harris, Banks, and Davis might all be one and done in the Six. In the case of Speedy B, with things spiraling in a downward fashion for the Double Blue. It’s fair to wonder how much longer he will be on the roster. Toronto is missing Eric Rogers and Cam Phillips from their starting lineup. So Banks might get a reprieve, at least in these next two weeks against his former team. But all bets are off after that if his current trend of minimal production continues.

Argonauts-Tigercats Part 3 News And Notes

The Argos, losers of three of their last four, have a shorter work week prepping for the Ticats. They have two full practices this week before a walk-through on Thursday. Toronto had Sunday and Monday off.

The minimized prep time makes sense, considering the team’s injuries and the fact that they are playing the Ticats for the third time in four weeks. With a follow-up game coming on Labour Day in Hamilton.

Player NamePositionInjuryTUEWEDGame Status
Simoni LawrenceLBKneeDNPDNPOut
Jumal RolleDBHamstringLimitedFull
Ciante EvansDBHandDNPDNPOut
Dane EvansQBShoulderLimitedFull
Anthony FedericoDLHeadFullFull
Mason BennettDLKneeFullFull
Alex FontanaOLKneeDNPDNPOut
Malik CarneyDLBackFullFull
Bailey FeltmateLBQuadLimitedDNPDoubtful
Jake BurtFBKneeDNPDNPOut
Papi WhiteWRKnee/AnkleFullFull
Dylan WynnDLKneeDNPDNPQuestionable
Lawrence WoodsDBKneeDNPDNPOut
Jamie NewmanQBNeckDNPDNPOut
Julian HowsareDLAchillesLimitedLimited
Kyle SaxelidOLAnkleFullFull
Player NamePositionInjuryTUEWEDGame Status
Dejon AllenOLBackDNPFullQuestionable
Joe CarboneFBCalfDNPDNPQuestionable
Declan CrossFBAnkleDNPDNPQuestionable
Ja’Gared DavisDLKneeDNPDNPOut
Dylan GiffenOLIllnessFullFullQuestionable
Josh HagertyDBNot Injury RelatedFullFullQuestionable
Eli MencerLBShoulderDNPDNPQuestionable
Tommy NieldWRAnkleDNPDNPQuestionable
Enoch Penney-LaryeaLBFootLimitedLimitedQuestionable
Robert PriesterDBShoulderDNPDNPQuestionable

Toronto might be without another starter on their offensive line this Friday night. Dejon Allen, who has battled through a back injury for several weeks, missed practice to start the week. Last year’s Left Tackle has been laboring on the right side. But he could be out this week. Shane Richards, who started against Hamilton in Toronto’s last victory, could get the call at right tackle.

As things are presently constituted, Toronto is going without a healthy fullback on its roster. Both Declan Cross (ankle) and Joe Carbone (calf) are not practicing. The Argos could go into Week 12 without one in the lineup. Cross is out of his walking boot after injuring his ankle. But it might be pushing it to put him out there on Friday.

It wouldn’t be shocking if the Boatmen make a move to sign someone to fill the fullback/special teams role temporarily. The Argos released 2020 5th round pick Dion Pellerin, at final cuts in training camp. The team signed veteran Patrick LaVoie off the street late in the season a year ago. Both players are available if Toronto decides to go that route.

The last time, Hamilton and Toronto squared off. Matthew Shiltz and Jamie Newman teamed up at quarterback to help lead the Ticats to victory. Shiltz is coming off of a stellar 303-yard passing day against Montreal last week. However, Dane Evans is practicing in a limited fashion, and he is inching closer to returning and will be available for duty.

A larger area of concern for Hamilton is their injuries on defense. Defensive back Ciante Evans (hand), linebacker Simoni Lawrence (knee), and defensive lineman Dylan Wynn (knee) were among those who were not participating in practice to start the week. Lawrence and Evans have been ruled out. DL Julian Howsare (Achilles) and DB Jumal Rolle (hamstring) are both limited to start the week. With a shorter work week, it’s possible that certain players could sit out Friday and rest till September 5th.

The big news coming out of Wednesday’s practice is that DB/KR Lawrence Woods is out for Friday with a knee injury. The last time Hamilton and Toronto sqaured up; Woods singlehandedly tormented the Boatmen with over 200 return yards.

The elephant in the room this week for Toronto is the growing sentiment amongst the team’s faithful for CFL rookie Chad Kelly to take the reins as the team’s signal-caller. There are some hints in recent days that Chad Kelly could have an expanded role in the Argos’ offensive attack, beyond his current duties as the team’s designated short-yardage pivot. Any increase in playing time, albeit for a series a game, could be a tip-off toward the team’s future plans.

The outcome of the Argos’ next two games could determine how soon Kelly gets the nod as the Argos’ starting quarterback. There are legitimate arguments against starting Kelly because of his inexperience playing in Canada. However, if Toronto were to falter against Hamilton the next two weeks and fall to 4-7. It’s very possible that the team will turn to Kelly.

There are two factors in play—McLeod Bethel-Thompson’s level of play, which has been solid this year, despite his critics. However, the amount of physical abuse he has taken in the pocket could lead to a decision being made for Ryan Dinwiddie without MBT having to be benched.

Whether Chad Kelly is ready or not in that scenario doesn’t matter. He will have to play. The moment that the Argonauts decided to anoint Kelly as their top backup quarterback. They had to be prepared for the possibility of Kelly playing. He’s one snap away from running the entire offence, and he might be only two games away from getting the job permanently.

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Mike Mitchell Reporter
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