Toronto Argonauts: Second exhibition game will be critical to preparing for season

Head coach Ryan Dinwiddie of the Toronto Argonauts before a game. (Photo by John E. Sokolowski/Getty Images)
Head coach Ryan Dinwiddie of the Toronto Argonauts before a game. (Photo by John E. Sokolowski/Getty Images) /

As they prepare for their final pre-season game, the Toronto Argonauts will be looking to fine-tune specific areas of their roster.

It’s almost hard to believe where the CFL would be if they didn’t have exhibition games this season but fortunately, we don’t have to.

The Toronto Argonauts play host to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats as they prepare to go into the season watching the rest of the league play. Once again, the Double Blue have a bye before welcoming the Montreal Alouettes on June 16.

So in a way, this game means quite a bit for Toronto, especially those who are looking to make one last final impression before final roster cuts are made. It also allows them the opportunity to give players more time to prepare especially those filling in for others who are dealing with injuries.

Toronto will also see most of the starters play in the pre-season finale. Many fans of both the Argos and Tiger-Cats will be wondering what Brandon Banks has to offer in his first game wearing the Double Blue. Andrew Harris’ debut will come when the season starts as the Argos continue to manage his workload throughout training camp.

Eric Rogers and Dejon Brissett remain sidelined with injuries as Toronto looks to avoid any major setbacks that keep them out off the field longer than they should be.

Gregor Mackellar will get a great opportunity to start in place of veteran offensive guard Dariusz Bladek dealing with an injury. The Argos first-round pick is in a good position to make the team but has some work to do to get ready to play against veteran pass rushers.

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“We drafted him in the first round for a reason,’’ said head coach Ryan Dinwiddie told Frank Zicarelli of the Toronto Sun. “Like all rookie O-linemen, we know he’ll have some growing pains, no matter where you’re from, even an NFL guy. There’s always a transition.

“He’s improving every day and we’re hoping he makes that transition pretty soon. He brings a little nastiness to us. I anticipate him making the club. (Friday night) is a big day. He’ll be playing with the big boys once again.”

After a less than ideal performance on the offensive side of the ball in their pre-season opener against the Ottawa Redblacks, it will be interesting to see how the Argos respond against Hamilton. There will be a lot of eyes on starting quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson who did not play in Ottawa.

Chad Kelly is now the team’s backup QB job beating out Antonio Pipkin who joined the B.C. Lions after getting released. He should see some action in the second exhibition game where he can leave the coaching staff with a good idea of what he can bring as the “next man up.”