The Argos welcome back two key starters this weekend for the 2022 version of Touchdown Atlantic. LT Isiah Cage and CFL All-Star defensive player Chris Edwards. Cage is arguably Toronto’s best offensive lineman in terms of overall talent, and Edwards was arguably the Boatmen’s best overall player a year ago. The 2022 arrival of both players should give Double Blue a significant boost moving forward.
Argos Facing Crucial Point Of The Early Season
The 1-2 Argonauts are finally getting healthier and they are going to need all their best talent at their disposal to get out of their early season doldrums.
The Boatmen are in the midst of a two-game losing streak and a four-game stretch against an elite trio of teams from the West. Toronto has lost two straight games, a demoralizing 44-3 road defeat to the B.C. Lions. And a heartbreaking one-point loss to the Blue Bombers at home.
Toronto now faces the prospects of playing the 4-1 Saskatchewan Roughriders two weeks in a row, starting with Saturday’s Touchdown Atlantic game in Nova Scotia. The rematch will occur a week later at Mosaic Stadium. No matter how well the Argonauts play against the Riders. It’s plausible that the team could be 1-4 when the smoke clears after their back-to-back showdowns with Saskatchewan.
As it pertains to DB/LB Chris Edwards, everyone knows the type of player he was in 2021. The hybrid in-the-box safety is a playmaker blitzing the quarterback, against the run, and in coverage. The pairing of Henoc Muamba, early season standout Wynton McManis, and Edwards should form one of the CFL’s best linebacking corps.
There is a lot more uncertainty when it comes to Offensive Tackle Isiah Cage. Understandably, he could have a significant amount of rust this Saturday considering his now three-year layoff.
The last time, Cage played in a regular season game for Toronto, was ironically enough the 2019 version of Touchdown Atlantic. Cage suffered a season-ending injury in that game against Montreal at Moncton and missed the remainder of the 2019 campaign.
Cage, who has been with Toronto since 2018, has shown glimpses of brilliance in the trenches as a blindside protector and a force in the run game. The Argos brain trust has put a lot of faith in him returning to form to be the same player he has shown in the past. But staying healthy has been his most significant hurdle in Canada. Unfortunately, bad luck has been Cage’s only form of luck the last few years.
After the 2020 season was canceled, Isiah Cage experienced another setback, this time a season-ending ankle injury during training camp last summer.
As detailed and revealed by Mike Hogan at Argonauts.ca, The snake-bitten Cage missed the start of the 2022 season when he slipped in the shower at a temporary residence, hit his head on the faucet, and suffered a concussion. Cage has had setbacks recovering from the unorthodox head injury. But he has been practicing in full this week and is excited about finally getting back on a CFL field.
Cage detailed his freak accident to Mike Hogan earlier this week.
“I didn’t get knocked out,” he explained. “I hopped right back up. I’ve hit my head harder in the past, honestly. It hurt a little bit on the side of my face and my eye. It was bad for about five seconds and then went away, so I was thinking I’m fine and finished showering. Two days later when we had a walkthrough and I felt like I was in a fog I knew I had a concussion.”
“I couldn’t really believe it honestly; the amount of work I’ve put in after what happened to me in ’21 when I got rolled up on. I was feeling good; everything is going good and something again that’s out of my control happens.”
The Argonauts are still missing a key piece to their offensive line in Centre Peter Nicastro. The All-CFL rookie is recovering from delayed knee surgery in 2021. But Cage’s return couldn’t come at a better time for the Boatmen. They are about to face off with the CFL’s most productive pass rush. The Saskatchewan Roughriders lead the league with 23 sacks in five games.
Argos-Riders Injury/Roster Update
The Argos are very healthy coming off their bye week. The team has arrived in Nova Scotia and has set up shop at Harbour East in Dartmouth for the next two days.
The two biggest concerns right now for Toronto on their practice report is the status of G/C Philip Blake, who is dealing with a groin injury. And the latest addition to Toronto’s report is RB AJ Ouellette (hamstring).
The grizzled CFL vet, Blake, has been limited in practice the last few days. A potential absence from Saturday’s lineup creates a void at guard and an issue with depth at Centre, and Blake is Toronto’s emergency option in the middle behind Justin Lawrence. If Blake can’t play Saturday, rookie Braydon Noll could be called up from the practice roster to provide insurance.
OL Theren Churchill is back with the team practicing and has received reps at guard this week. The Argonauts also have versatile swing linemen Shane Richards, a former first-round pick, as a possible replacement for Philip Blake. Rookie first-round pick Gregor MacKellar has also been getting first-team reps on the interior this week. The Nova Scotia native could get his first CFL start on Saturday.
RB AJ Oullette’s hamstring injury could open the door for another rookie to contribute in a significant role. RB Daniel Adeboboye would be Andrew Harris’s primary backup if Ouellette were to miss Touchdown Atlantic. RB Javon Leake was placed on the team’s six-game injured list before the bye week.
The Argonauts getting healthier on defence, coupled with the return of Chris Edwards and the emergence of DBs Robert Priester and Tarvarus McFadden, has created a roster jam in the secondary. As a result, Toronto announced the release of Canadian DB Matt Boateng. The 26-year-old Ontario native has been a member of Double Blue since being drafted in the second round out of Fresno State in 2018.
There’s always a possibility that Boateng could be back with the team in the future. But for now, the Argos are moving on without him.
There aren’t too many competitive advantages to Toronto losing a home game to play Touchdown Atlantic. Besides, the Argos coming off a bye week.
After all, the neutral site game at Acadia University could have a Riders crowd feel amongst the 10,000 fans in attendance for Saturday’s contest.
However, the Boatmen could be getting a break this Saturday based on the current issues Saskatchewan is having on their talented defensive front and in their receiving corps.
Notwithstanding the four-game suspension on Garrett Marino for his low hit on Jeremiah Masoli and the on-field antics that ensued.
The Riders could also be without two other major players on their highly touted defensive front. Defensive linemen AC Leonard and Pete Robertson. Both players have combined for ten of Saskatchewan’s 23 sacks this season. Robertson leads the league with seven.
Leonard (shoulder) and Robertson (Foot) were DNP’s on Sask’s recent practice report. Veteran Charleston Hughes, a healthy scratch last week against Ottawa, could be called upon to help fill the void if Leonard and Robertson can’t suit up.
The Riders have had their share of injuries at receiver as well this season. They lost Shaq Evans. And now Kyran Moore (Knee) and Mitchell Picton (Ankle) are limited heading into TD Atlantic. There is still time for them to recover by Saturday. But you have to wonder if they will be at 100 percent for the game.
Saskatchewan has yet to have a bye this season. And they won’t untill week 9. The dog days of summer might be catching up to them while they try to play catch up in the West. The Argos are hoping to get the Riders at the right time, and that might be the case based on the injuries piling up for the Riders. It’s been a tumultuous week of distractions for Saskatchewan leading into Saturday’s TD Atlantic game.
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