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The Double Blue Preparing For A Double Dose Of Ottawa

The Toronto Argonauts season was consumed by playing the Hamilton Tiger-Cats four times in five weeks. The Double Blue now shifts its focus to its other Ontario rival, the Ottawa REDBLACKS. Toronto and Ottawa will play each other twice in the next three weeks. With a bye week sandwiched in between.

Deja Vu For Double Blue?

The last time the Boatmen faced off with the REDBLACKS in Week 8, they suffered a letdown losing to Ottawa 23-13 at home. Double Blue’s defeat gave Ottawa its first victory of the 2022 CFL season. The Argos had come off two consecutive wins against Saskatchewan before their bubble burst at BMO Feld on July 31st.

Heading into Week 14, The 6-5 Argonauts’ are in an eerily similar position since the last time they faced Ottawa. They are coming off two consecutive victories over Hamilton. After an emotional high of finally slaying their LDC dragon at Tim Horton’s field on Monday.

Will playing the now 3-8 Ottawa REDBLACKS serve as Deja Vu for the Double Blue? The REDBLACKS may not be winless overall this time, but they are still without a victory at home this season.

Letdown, being overlooked, Call it what you want to, but Ottawa outplayed Toronto the last time these two teams met. The REDBLACKS’ formidable pass rush led by league-leading sack artist Lorenzo Mauldin (10 sacks) and Davon Coleman dominated Toronto’s front. They sacked McLeod Bethel-Thompson four times and completely shut down the Argos’ ground attack, holding them to 33 yards.

Toronto’s defence struggled mightily, keeping Argos killer Jaelon Acklin in check. The league’s leading receiver (56-963) ran circles around Argonauts’ defenders, registering ten receptions for 144 yards and a major.

The REDBLACKS have won two straight games and three of their last five. And don’t look now, but they are putting themselves in a position to secure a playoff spot in the East. After starting the season winless, at 0-6, that notion would have seemed unthinkable in July. But flash forward to today, and Ottawa is only two points behind second-place Montreal, who is 4-7. Ottawa also has a better division record (2-2) than both the Als (2-3) and Ticats (3-4).

On top of that, Ottawa has an opportunity to challenge Toronto for first place. It seems far-fetched because, at the moment. The REDBLACKS trail the Argonauts by three games in the standings. However, they already own a head-to-head victory over Toronto and now have an opportunity to sweep the Argos at home in back-to-back meetings. If Ottawa accomplishes that feat, they will only be one game behind Toronto with the tie-breakers in their back pocket.

Double-Sided Revenge Game

Since last season, many of the thousands of readers here at CFL Newhub have been introduced to the Xs and Argos podcast. If you haven’t checked them out by now. Ben Grant and JB do a tremendous job of breaking down the Boatmen and the entire league with humor and insight.

Xs and Argos always have an excellent feel for the theme of every Toronto game. And they have hit the nail this week, speculating if Saturday’s game between the Argos and REDBLACKS is a “Double-Sided Revenge” game. You can check out their full podcast below.

Toronto is seeking revenge for what transpired between them and Ottawa in Week 8. They will look to give the REDBLACKS a dose of their own medicine by beating them on their own field. But it’s challenging to not focus on former Argos quarterback Nick Arbuckle’s potential to exact revenge against the Argos.

The term journeyman quarterback is something McLeod Bethel-Thompson embodies based on his resume not only in the pros but also in college. However, it’s a new label that some have used for Nick Arbuckle as well. Based on his recent travels.

Arbuckle can probably be pegged as a cup of coffee quarterback in the CFL. Especially in the last two years. He’s had short stints with three different teams in that stretch. After spending the 2018 and 2019 seasons with Calgary backing up Bo Levi Mitchell. Arbuckle was traded to Ottawa initially in 2020, released for Matt Nichols, and then landed in Toronto playing for them in 2021. He then promptly lost his starting job with the Double Blue and was traded that same year to Edmonton. It didn’t take long for the Elks to jettison Arbuckle are handing him the reins at quarterback. Chris Jones dealt Arbuckle to Ottawa a few weeks back.

Things didn’t work out for Nick Arbuckle in the Six as many had envisioned. Uniting with his former Calgary coach Ryan Dinwiddie was supposed to be a blessing for him. But things quickly turned on Arbuckle; he got injured in camp and fell out of favor when McLeod Bethel-Thompson outplayed him during the 2021 season. MBT had won Dinwiddie over and usurped Ryan’s former pupil.

Double Blue dealt Arbuckle away in a salary dump for a 2022 second-round pick and the negotiation rights to Chad Kelly. After playing seven games for the Argos, going 96-of-153 for 1,158 yards, with five touchdowns and six interceptions. Nick Arbuckle went from potential Argos QB of the future to a throwaway within a few months.

It wasn’t all bad for Arbuckle in Toronto, and he had some shining moments with the Argonauts. Including winning CFL top performer of the week in beating the champion Blue Bombers last season.

Arbuckle started the 2022 season on a horrible note. He threw two touchdowns to a league-leading ten interceptions. But in the last two weeks, as the REDBLACKS starting pivot, he’s come on, winning both games and throwing for 532 yards, and has scored two touchdowns with no interceptions.

It remains to be seen what happens when Jeremiah Masoli returns from injury, thanks to a cheap shot from the CFL’s version of Lord Voldemort. But if Arbuckle keeps playing well. He may have found a permanent home in Ottawa, and beating the Argos, potentially twice, would help make that a reality for him.

Week 14 REDBLACKS-ARGOS Injury/Practice Report

Player NamePositionInjuryTUEWEDTHUGame Status
RJ HarrisWRHipFullFullFull
Justin HardyWRHealthy ScratchFullFullFull
Sherrod BaltimoreDBHamstringDNPDNPDNPOut
Jackson BennettRBAnkleFullFullFull
Darvin AdamsWRAnkleDNPFullFull
Ucambre WilliamsOLIllnessFullFullFull
Hakeem BaileyDBHealthy ScratchFullFullFull
Lorenzo MauldinDLShoulderLimitedFullFull
Player NamePositionInjuryTUEWEDTHUGame Status
Joe CarboneFBCalf –DNPDNPQuestionable
Declan CrossFBAnkle –LimitedLimitedQuestionable
Dylan GiffenOLHealthy Scratch –FullFullDoubtful
Caleb HoldenDBAnkle –DNPDNPQuestionable
Jonathan JonesLBShoulder –DNPDNPOut
Deionte KnightDLHealthy Scratch –FullFullQuestionable
Justin LawrenceOLKnee –LimitedLimitedQuestionable
Javon LeakeRBHamstring –DNPDNPQuestionable
Enoch Penney-LaryeaLBAnkleLimitedQuestionable
Robert PriesterDBShoulder –DNPDNPQuestionable
Tigie SankohDBHamstring –FullFullQuestionable
Trevon TateOLKneeDNPOut

The Ottawa REDBLACKS and Toronto Argonauts have submitted their injury reports ahead of their matchup on Saturday.

REDBLACKS receiver Darvin Adams (ankle) was a full participant for the second day of practice and received no injury designation leading up to Saturday’s game. In bad news for the Double Blue, Ottawa defensive lineman Lorenzo Mauldin (shoulder) was also a full participant for Thursday.

Defensive back Sherrod Baltimore (hamstring) was a non-participant for the third consecutive day and has been listed out ahead of Saturday. Ottawa is getting reinforcements back in their secondary by bringing back Brandin Dandridge, who is coming off a stint in the NFL.

In Toronto, practice at Lamport Stadium saw fullback Declan Cross (ankle) and offensive lineman Justin Lawrence (knee) limited for the second day. Both are listed as questionable ahead of Saturday. Toronto has been playing without a fullback the last two weeks, and the return of Cross would be a welcome one.

The Argos would be in a tough spot without Lawrence. Their backup Centre is left tackle, Philip Blake. Unless rookie Braydon Noll gets called up from the practice roster.

For those who are wondering, C Peter Nicastro is at home rehabbing, still on the six-game injury list, recovering from off-season knee surgery. The Argos don’t expect the All-CFL rookie until late in the season, and the early talk is perhaps in Week 19.

Defensive back Robert Priester (shoulder) and running back Javon Leake (hamstring) were non-participants for the second day of practice and have been listed as questionable. They are likely to miss Saturday, Priester hasn’t suited up the last two games, and Leake missed the LDC.

With a short week of preparation, the Argos and REDBLACKS are liable to sit any players who are deemed questionable—especially with a bye week coming.

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Mike Mitchell Reporter
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