James Franklin will get the chance to lead the Toronto Argonauts offence against his former team with the Edmonton Eskimos visiting BMO Field.
It might have come earlier than expected but James Franklin gets his opportunity to show that he’s capable of being a starting quarterback in the CFL and the Toronto Argonauts are hoping that will be the case.
With Ricky Ray’s status for the rest of the season in doubt and the team’s offence needing a spark, it’ll be up to the 26-year-old to lead the charge against his former team.
For the past three seasons, Franklin was the understudy to Mike Reilly in Edmonton and gets to show off what he’s picked throughout his time there.
“It’s pretty exciting I know that there’s a lot of comparisons but there’s so many variables you can’t compare,” Franklin said about going up against Reilly.
"“I know he gave me hard time at the end of the seasons like ‘don’t think we’re going to take it easy on you when we play you’ but I’m excited for him… I am pretty excited about it and I was really thankful too when I was in Edmonton he was nothing but helpful to me, he was never condescending, never tried to put me down or make me feel like I couldn’t play, he was encouraging and helped me out when I needed it.”"
"Franklin took the time to get to know some of his teammates during training camp especially James Wilder Jr. who he spent time with during the offseason doing workouts."
It is that type of bond that Franklin hopes will make him comfortable as he prepares to make his first start with the Argos.
“One thing I’ve learned from my dad is that you know the best way to get to people is to build relationships,” said Franklin on his approach to getting in sync with his teammates.
“When you’re out there on the field you feel so much better and more comfortable when you’re with people that you enjoy…people you know, how they think, how they act, a lot of people don’t realize but you know that kind of stuff helps you have that connection on the field and I’m just hoping I can do that with the guys and the opportunity I get this weekend.”
S.J. Green is one player that Ray was able to establish that connection with as the go-to receiver last season and will probably see a similar role with Franklin.
At the same time, young quarterback admits that he wants to get more players involved in the offence.
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“The thing about me is that I like to throw to everybody because I try to be a people pleaser sometimes to a fault,” Franklin said. “If I can get someone on a check down or maybe third or fourth progression that’s what gets me excited.”
During practice on Tuesday, Franklin got the chance to lead the first-team offence in scrimmages and noticed pretty easily why Green is among the top receivers in the league.
“He’s got a good catch radius and I don’t want to force it because that’s one thing I know that some quarterbacks do which is to give them the ball no matter what,” Franklin said about throwing to Gree. “I’ve got to make sure that as much as I’ve enjoyed throwing to him so far I can’t force it when it’s not there and when given the opportunity more times than not I know he’ll make the play.”
His teammates know that the team will be in a good situation going forward but also know that establishing the run game will help keep Reilly off the field and get a rhythm.
One player that could also get an opportunity is wideout Llevi Noel who was drafted by the Argos in the fourth round of the 2016 draft. He has been a mainstay on special teams but with Brian Tyms getting cut, there’s a chance for the Toronto native to get into the starting lineup.
With Edmonton’s second-ranked offence coming to BMO Field, the Argos will have their hands full but they are putting their faith in Franklin to help get the Double Blue back on track.