The Argos are pushing for the first game of preseason despite uncertainties

Argos head coach Ryan Dinwiddie opened up the media crowd on Tuesday by saying he was disappointed with that team’s performance in training. Citing a difference in his team’s energy levels, Dinwiddie wondered if his players were “mentally challenged”.

Ryan Dinwiddie paused to elaborate on his team’s thinking. However, one can wonder if the possibility of the league being suspended due to a deadlock in the CBA is what is causing players to slow down before potentially grinding to a halt altogether. After all, they didn’t get the green light to start working towards the season.

Dark cloud hovering over the Argos and the CFL

Perhaps sometime after the publication of this article, disaster will be averted and the CFL will be back on track for the 2022 season. One can hope. But for now, right now, the uncertainty that has become a regular theme in the CFL remains rife.

For what it’s worth after the CFLPA rejected the originally agreed terms of a new CBA two days ago. The league has submitted a new proposal to the players’ union which it hopes will resolve any remaining issues with the proposed seven-year deal. The D-date or deadline for approval is this Thursday at midnight.

A year ago, CFL teams like the Argos were operating under a cloud of uncertainty. Not only did they have a lost year due to the pandemic. But teams like the Argos have had to navigate new, uncharted waters under strict pandemic rules. Quarantines of players and coaches were the order of the day in training camps a year ago.

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No one wants to even mention the word COVID. It’s still out there, but many of the restrictions that limited CFL teams to one year are gone. The elephant in the room this year is now a pending work stoppage. Fans, players and the entire league have endured a lot since the end of the 2019 season and the world as a whole has changed.

It’s easy to see why players are a bit anxious at the moment. Just like a year ago, they don’t train and don’t prepare for a season under normal circumstances. Hopefully this is just a passing mindset and condition.

Roster News

The Argos have added and deleted their roster. Toronto added DL Jake Hlava and released DB Cam Glenn.

Cameron Glenn has been with the Toronto Argonauts since 2019. The 26-year-old Wake Forest graduate was one of the few remaining boatmen from the 2019 roster still on the roster. In the six from three years ago there are only nine players left. Glenn was a hardworking player who lived on the fringes and spent most of his time with the Argonauts on the training list. Toronto is so deep in her secondary school that Glenn became expendable. The team also parted ways with veterans Jeff Richards and Crezdon Butler earlier in the year.

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Jake Hlava is a fascinating defender from Grand Valley State. Hlava has been working hard to get a chance at a professional soccer team since graduating in 2021. He enters the Toronto party late on a very deep defensive line. But perhaps the two-way skills he’s displayed against the run and pass at GVU will earn him some long-term view.

playing time in the pre-season

Argos head coach Ryan Dinwiddie plans to use a three-player rotation at the QB position Friday night but is unsure if starter McLeod Bethel-Thompson will attract. The odds are he won’t, but Dinwiddie plans to give MBT some replays in the June 3 preseason finals in Guelph against the Tiger-Cats. Provided there is no work stoppage by then.

Antonio Pipkin could see a series as a starter on the pivot this Friday against Ottawa. But all eyes will be on QB Chad Kelly. The former SEC star and NFL signal caller drew positive reviews in his early days as a CFL rookie. Kelly is happy to be back on a football field. But he’s still learning the nuances of the Canadian game over time. Kelly’s work ethic has impressed coach Dinwiddie and the team’s staff.

American QB Cole McDonald, former Hawaii QB and Tennessee Titans 7th-round draft pick, saw some action in the 2021 regular-season finals but didn’t show up for Argos training camp. His future status is unknown as he remains on the suspension list. But it has opened the door for America’s QB Austin Simmons to get a longer look. Ryan Dinwiddie has been a fan of the South Dakota passer for quite some time. But admitted his performance in camp was very up and down. Although Dinwiddie has said he’s getting better every day.

Simmons was a standout player at the Mid-Valley Football Conference. But unlike Chad Kelly, he has some CFL experience, albeit minimal, having spent some time on the Alouettes’ and Hamilton’s roster. This is Simmons’ third stint in the CFL with Toronto. In-game action is vital for players like him.

Canadian rookie OL Gregor MacKellar, Toronto’s sixth overall pick in the 2022 CFL Draft, will also see valuable playtime this Friday. The Argos have played MacKellar on the left but Ryan Dinwiddie told the media he could see some snaps down the middle. The plan is for MacKellar to protect most replays against Ottawa.

Rookie runner Daniel Adeboboye is also expected to see plenty of replays. But RB AJ Ouellete is expected to start in place of Andrew Harris on Friday. The team plans to rotate four different runners against the red-blacks.

Most of the team’s rookies are expected to get a lot of playing time. The veterans will play more in the second preseason game to prepare for Toronto’s regular season opener, which doesn’t start until Week 2 at home against Montreal. Andrew Harris is expected to make his Argos debut in this game. We’re hoping to get through Friday and set up for the CFL regular season as planned.

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