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The Argos Release Preseason Depth Chart While Awaiting Uncertain Game Status

The Argos have released their depth chart for their preseason opener Friday night in Ottawa. The Argonauts canceled their flight out to Ottawa today and plan to head to Ottawa tomorrow, provided that they get the green light from the CFL and its players’ association.

The Toronto Argonauts, the entire CFL, and its fans are in a holding pattern, awaiting the status of the upcoming season. Will things finally be resolved in the CBA impasse? Or will the CFL and its players press the pause button and halt the momentum that has been gradually building since returning to play a year ago. The league and its followers have been down this lonely road of faith all too many times in recent years.

There’s hope, perhaps a naive one, that at the eleventh hour that both the league and players show unity and make the CFL whole again. Yesterday’s team photo ops by the Argos conveyed the feeling of togetherness for the new season. Hopefully, they weren’t a freeze-frame of what could have been.

Argos 2022 Preseason Depth Chart For 5/27/22

As expected and reported here in recent days, Toronto Argonauts head coach Ryan Dinwiddie is taking a Team B and C approach to the Boatmen’s opening preseason game. As stated by Dinwiddie, the plan is to utilize the Argos’ second preseason contest against Hamilton as a regular-season dress rehearsal for his veteran starters. If we get to that point unscathed, superstars Andrew Harris Brandon Banks, and others are expected to see their first action in Double Blue against the Ti-Cats.

For now, the depth chart for game one has some interesting quirks. It’s supposed to be a showcase game for players looking to make their cases for staying on the roster before the first wave of cuts, (down to 75 plus non-counters after the preseason opener).

The cancellation of this game would be a crushing blow for the young players who are on the fringe of making the roster. The loss of valuable game reps could hinder the growth of several CFL newcomers, both Canadian and American.

Offensive Depth Chart Notes

As expected, no McLeod Bethel-Thompson on Friday night. Antonio Pipkin gets the start on the pivot. He could see a few series. But all eyes will be on Ole Miss Superstar and former NFL QB Chad Kelly. The All-SEC standout is on a redemption arc in his career. And he is starting a new life as a CFL player in Canada. The transition won’t be easy. But thus far, Kelly has earned positive reviews as he undergoes the customary reprogramming American signal-callers have to experience north of the border.

A key player in Double Blue’s starting lineup on offence is Centre Justin Lawrence. The former Stampeder might be the team’s opening day starter in Week 2, as young stalwart Peter Nicastro is still recovering from a late-season knee injury.

Very curiously, longtime veteran CFL player Philip Blake is in the starting lineup at left guard. To get to the finish line, the grizzled vet battled through so many injuries last season. Blake provides versatility and leadership. But rookie first-round pick Gregor MacKellar might be on his heels. MacKellar is expected to play most of the reps at LG on Friday. This could be his chance to make a case for starting immediately, as Nicastro did a year ago.

Toronto’s top two offensive tackles, the returning Isaiah Cage and Dejon Allen, are sitting out this one against the Redblacks. Martez Ivey (LT) and Trevon Tate (RT) will start in their places at tackle. Mojtaba Mehry is getting a grand opportunity to showcase himself starting at right guard. With Theren Churchill away for personal reasons. Backup players on the interior have an opening to state their case.

AJ Ouellette gets the nod at RB. But expect CFL rookies Javon Leake and the highly touted second-round pick, Daniel Adeboboye, to get extended looks in the backfield.

Five of Toronto’s top six veteran pass catchers are sitting this game out. However, free-agent pickup Markeith Ambles will be in the starting lineup at SB. CFL vets like Chandler Worthy and Earnest Edwards will have an opportunity to cement their roster status. But youngsters like Jamari Hester (HB) and Damonte Coxie (Boundary) are joining them in the starting lineup against Ottawa, and they could make their push to stay on the roster if they play well.

Usually when advanced veteran players like Markeith Ambles, Philip Blake, etc., play in a game where other vets are not dressing. It’s typically a sign that they could be on the trade block. The Argos brain trust might make some interesting decisions on offence when roster cuts are made at the end of the preseason.

Sometimes in preseason games, it’s not about who is playing but rather who is not. There are some interesting names out of the lineup for Friday. Like second-year CFL WR Cam Phillips. He has had a solid training camp. But unless there is some sort of undisclosed injury at play. His absence from the lineup raises questions. Does the team like what they see in his growth, and would prefer to rest Cam, to evaluate other players. Or is the writing on the wall for Phillips? Either way, jobs are at stake on Friday and heading into this weekend’s pending cuts.

Argos Special Teams

On Special teams, Boris Bede is getting the night off. Global rookie John Hagerty and the returning Toshiki Sato will handle punting and placekicking duties respectively. Longtime long snapper Jake Reinhart returns to action after a mid-season injury in 2021 put him on the shelf. It will be interesting to see who returns kicks and punts for the Boatmen. The Argos have several in-house candidates from 2021, but also plenty of newcomers lined up for those roles.

Defensive Depth Chart Notes

Newly minted defensive coordinator Corey Mace is suiting up more key starting players than you would expect in this type of game. Shawn Oakman, Shane Ray, Treston Decoud, Jamal Peters, Robbie Smith, and Chris Edwards are all in the starting lineup.

The latter, Chris Edwards, is facing a six-game suspension to start the year. So perhaps his involvement is not too surprising. But Toronto will need to figure out life without Edwards at the SAM spot at some point during this Spring. It might not mean much right now, but DeAngelo Amos is listed as his backup for Friday’s game. His brother, DaShaun, is not dressed for this one. DeAngelo is going to get an extended look at the position.

Training camp superstar Maurice Carnell IV has a grand opportunity to continue his momentum on Friday. Carnell has been one of the breakout stars in camp. He is getting the start at HB. Without the existence of exhibition games, players like Carnell might not otherwise have this chance.

Hopefully, for the sake of players like Carnell, the CFL, and its fans. Friday’s game doesn’t disappear under a dark cloud.

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Mike Mitchell Reporter
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