Toronto Argonauts: Who will start with Ricky Ray sidelined?


After head coach Marc Trestman announced that Ricky Ray will not start against the Montreal Alouettes, the Toronto Argonauts will have to decide between Cody Fajardo or Jeff Matthews to start at quarterback.

Going into a critical two-game series against the Montreal Alouettes, the Toronto Argonauts will be without the top passer in the CFL as Ricky Ray will be unable to go with a shoulder injury. That means either Cody Fajardo and Jeff Matthews will line up under center for the Double Blue in a pivotal divisional series.

The 37-year old was hurt in the Argos loss to the Calgary Stampeders when Michael Kashak tackled him from behind and drove him to the ground. After leaving the game it was Fajardo who entered the game going six-for-11 for 75 yards and another eight rushes for 55 yards and a touchdown. After the game, Ray was in clear pain but his status for the next game was in serious doubt considering his past injury to his throwing shoulder.

Now the Argos face a tough decision with a tough Alouettes defence led by Kyries Hebert and Dominique Tovell. The Als defensive unit has allowed 150 points which is ranked third in the league and tops in the East division. They only have six sacks this season compared to the Argos who have 25 so whoever is playing at quarterback will have an easier time in pocket unless the offensive line cannot holdup.

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The obvious benefit to starting Fajardo is his running ability so that would be an extra bonus that Trestman could take advantage of. Where Matthews holds the advantage is his experience as a starter in the CFL although he has not thrown a pass in a regular season games since 2016.  Based on the reports from practice, Matthews has been receiving the bulk of the snaps. So either the Argos are planning to start Matthews or they want him to be ready to go just in case Fajardo struggles.

Speaking to Matthews after practice on Monday, he feels good with the reps he’s been getting in practice. “It’s always good to get in, feels good to spend some time in practice throwing,” he said. “They [Montreal]are a good defence obviously, they show up on tape you know they hustle to the ball coach [Noel] Thorpe does a good job preparing them but we have a great group up front but I believe in my guys and we have a good game plan.”

Trestman says that he expects to make a decision on a starter Thursday when the team travels to Montreal. He told Mark Zwolinski of the Toronto Star that he feels comfortable starting both quarterbacks.

“I see both of them as potential starters in this league,” Trestman said. “They have different styles, but both are very capable of playing in this offence. We wouldn’t change our offence with either one of them in there.”

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This will be an important decision for the team to make after winning the season series against the Ottawa Redblacks they have a chance to do the same against Montreal. If they come out on top then they will be in a comfortable spot in the East division. However, with the amount of abuse that Ray has taken this season, it will be up to the offensive line and the running game to take some of the pressure off the quarterbacks.