The Chad Kelly era as the Toronto Argonauts’ starting quarterback officially begins on Saturday, as the defending CFL Champion and new-look Argos kick off their two-game preseason slate in Hamilton against the Tiger-Cats.
The Toronto Argonauts today released their first depth chart for the 2023 preseason. But more importantly, they unveiled their in-season plans to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the franchise’s existence.
Toronto Argonauts @ Hamilton Tiger-Cats Week One Preseason Depth Charts, Saturday, May 27th, 4:00 p.m. EDT at Tim Hortons Field.
The Grey Cup hero, Chad Kelly, is penciled in as Toronto’s starter on the pivot. He will be squaring off on Saturday with Hamilton’s new leader at quarterback, perennial All-Pro Bo Levi Mitchell.
It remains to be seen how much both will play. Typically, starting quarterbacks are ceremonially listed as preseason starters more than anything else. However, the Argos and Ti-Cats could be looking to get their new leading pivots feet wet early as they embark upon career-changing seasons.
Chad Kelly is looking to prove himself this season as a front-line starter. The Ole Miss superstar is getting his first genuine opportunity in the pros to be the exact catalyst he was in college. With McLeod Bethel-Thompson gone. It’s Kelly’s show in Toronto.
Bo Levi Mitchell is also looking to prove himself as well in 2023. The future Hall of Fame quarterback is on a redemption arc, looking to recapture greatness in the final chapter of his career.
Excluding Saturday’s preseason opener, The Argonauts and Tiger-Cats will meet four times during the regular season. And considering that the two eternal rivals will meet in Toronto’s home opener Sunday, June 18th, at BMO Field. It’s unlikely that either team doesn’t take a vanilla approach this weekend.
The outcome of Saturday’s preseason game holds more significance for Hamilton than it does for Toronto. The Ti-Cats would love to start their 2023 campaign with a win at home against their bitter rival. Perhaps as a symbolic sign of what’s to come this season. But the game’s true import is for shaking off the rust and for back-end roster evaluation.
Argonauts Preseason Week One Depth Chart/Roster Notes
Outside of seeing the 18-time champion Argos debut their new All-Cambridge Blue dominant attire on Saturday. There are some other areas of interest to monitor closely.
Among the list of veteran Argonauts players who won’t dress on Saturday include running back Andrew Harris, offensive lineman Dariusz Bladek, wide receiver Cam Phillips, defensive linemen Shawn Oakman, and linebackers Henoc Muamba/Wynton McManis.
Beyond Chad Kelly, the quarterback position carries the most intrigue for Toronto in the preseason. Ben Holmes, Bryan Scott, and dark horse candidate Cameron Dukes could all see exhibition action. Ben Holmes, because of his experience last season with Toronto, seems like the logical front-runner to be Chad Kelly’s caddy in 2023. However, Scott and even Dukes have a chance to make a bid for contention.
The RB spot also has some competition. Andrew Harris, A.J. Ouellette, and special teams standout Daniel Adeboboye are locks to make the roster. Second-year CFL player Javon Leake and the new arriving Deonta McMahon are fighting for an active roster spot. Leake would appear to have the edge over the FCS superstar based on his return ability.
The configuration of the Argonauts offensive line bears watching.
2021 All-Star rookie Peter Nicastro is back in the starting lineup at Center after a knee injury wiped out his sophomore season. His potential backup, free-agent pickup Darius Ciraco is a game-time decision. As a result, rookie Anthony Vandal could see extended playing time in the middle.
On Saturday, Shane Richards gets the nod at left tackle with Isiah Cage and Trevon Tate out. Dejon Allen is captaining the right side. The preseason will allow Toronto to get an extended look at newcomers Ralph Singleton and Aron Johnson. However, it’s within the realm of possibility that Ryan Hunter could kick to the outside when the season starts if someone doesn’t take hold of the position.
Cage and Tate being out is not a positive development, even if the team is erring on the side of caution with both players.
There’s also a battle at outside WR. Jeremiah Haydel is getting the start in game one. But the competition is wide open for that potential spot. Toronto has seven new players at receiver/slotback, who will need to make an immediate impact to stick around. Monmouth’s Lonnie Moore Jr is one of the newcomers who has stuck out in the early days of camp. Can he keep the momentum going during live in-game action?
Defensively, it’s surprising to see prized offseason pickup DE Folarin Orimolade in the Argos’ starting lineup. It remains the be seen how much the elite pass rusher plays.
The Boundary side of the Argonauts’ secondary is a question mark heading into the season.
Jack-of-all-trades Robert Priester is the early front-runner to assume outside cornerback duties with Jamal Peters in the NFL. Veteran Robertson Daniel seems like the default option to play boundary halfback next to Priester.
New additions like Qwantez Stiggers and Keith Washington will see plenty of playing time in these next two preseason games. With Maurice Carnell IV out for an extended period of time, and players like Stiggers, Washington, and Caleb Holden have an opportunity to stake their claims to roster spots.
On Special teams, it didn’t take long for Holy Cross rookie Adam Guilmette to get the nod at long snapper. Usually, paying attention to long snaps is not on any onlookers’ agenda. But with the highly touted Guilmette making his Argos debut, how he performs will be of interest.
Very often, preseason games are quickly forgotten. Unfortunately, they are only remembered if disaster strikes and a significant player gets injured.
Sometimes, though, a player’s performance in their first exhibition action can be remembered fondly if it’s the genesis of a remarkable career.
The Argos ended last season on a special note, and because of Toronto’s new look approaching year 150 of its existence. And the changing of the guard at quarterback and the reigning champions’ starting point feels different than your typical mundane preseason warm-up game.
The Toronto Argonauts announced today their plans to celebrate the franchise’s 150th anniversary. It’s a special season for the winningest franchise in CFL history.
TORONTO ARGONAUTS ANNOUNCE PLANS TO CELEBRATE THE FRANCHISE’S 150TH ANNIVERSARY DURING THE 2023 SEASON
The Toronto Argonauts will celebrate the franchise’s 150th Anniversary during the 2023 season and have planned a season full of tributes, both on the field and off, for fans and alums, culminating with a public event on Wednesday, October 4, to mark the historic occasion and an anniversary celebration game on Friday, October 6.
At a press conference Friday at the Argonaut Rowing Club, the founders of the team, the Argos, introduced a 150th Anniversary logo that the team will feature all season, including on its uniform, as well as plans to count down the top 150 moments in Argos history throughout the season. The team will celebrate the 150th Anniversary and its place as the oldest professional sports team in North America, still using its original name, at each game, beginning with the home opener on June 18th against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats as they raise a banner for the team’s record 18th Grey Cup Championship, won last November with a dramatic 24-23 victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. That night, the first 15,000 fans entering BMO Field will also receive a replica Grey Cup Championship ring, modeled after the team’s stunning championship ring.
“The Argonauts have an incredible history here in the City of Toronto, dating back 150 years, and this season is a great opportunity to celebrate this special Anniversary with many of the people who helped create so many important Argos memories, both alumni and fans alike,” said Bill Manning, President of the Toronto Argonauts. “We look forward to reliving those moments that helped make this franchise so memorable and kicking off this anniversary season as defending Grey Cup champions.”
On Monday, July 3, the Argos host the B.C. Lions in their second home game, the team will celebrate the induction of two alums as the newest All-Time Argos, bringing the total to 26 legendary players, as announced by Toronto Argonauts Alumni Association President Stace Coray, Vice President Dan Ferrone and Secretary Bob Bronk. Joining the prestigious list of All-Time Argos in 2023 will be Damon Allen (Quarterback, 2003-2007) and Derrell ‘Mookie’ Mitchell (Receiver, 1997-2003, 2007).
“The Toronto Argonauts Alumni Association is proud to work with the team to announce the addition of Damon Allen and Derrell Mitchell to the All-Time Argos list at such a historic time for the club,” said Toronto Argonauts Alumni Association President Stace Coray. “Both players had legendary careers as Argos and contributed greatly to the club’s rich history, both on the field and in the community. We look forward to officially celebrating their addition to the All-Time Argos list in July.”
As part of the team’s celebration of its 150th anniversary and its ongoing commitment to the community, MLSE Foundation has committed $150,000 in donations to community programs on behalf of the Argos this year, with $75,000 earmarked for the Daily Break Food Bank and another $75,000 commitment to football development with a partnership to be announced this season. An additional $75,000 will be committed to community football development in 2024.
Throughout the season, the Argos will count down the Top 150 Moments in franchise history, as determined by a 150th Anniversary Historical Sub-Committee made up of long-time club employees Mike Hogan and Danny Webb, former in-stadium announcer Don Landry and Canadian Football historians James Fraser and Paul Woods. The Top 150 Moments in franchise history will be counted down throughout the season, with the Top 10 being unveiled during the 150th Anniversary week in October.
Officially founded on October 4, 1873, the Toronto Argonauts are the winningest club in Canadian Football history, with a record 18 Grey Cup Championships to their credit. The Argonaut Rowing Club founded the team to keep rowing club members in shape during the off-season.
Throughout its history, many of the greatest players in Canadian Football history have worn the iconic Double Blue uniform, including legends Lionel Conacher, Joe Krol, Dick Shatto, Condredge Holloway, Doug Flutie, Ricky Ray, and current Argos General Manager Michael “Pinball” Clemons.
“This season will be a special reminder to us all that this Toronto Argonauts Anniversary is not just about football history; it also represents the history of this city and our country,” said Michael “Pinball” Clemons, General Manager of the Toronto Argonauts. “This franchise changed my life, and I know from speaking to so many other players and fans over the years that it has changed the lives of thousands of other people for the better in similar ways. We look forward to celebrating that impact and the fact that this team has brought us together for many years.”
Further details on the Toronto Argonauts 150th Anniversary celebrations this season, including an Anniversary event on Wednesday, October 4, will be shared throughout the season.
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