Debut of veteran RB Harris pushed back until season opener

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No Andrew Harris, no Eric Rogers, no telling how many players will get reps and no reason why rookie offensive lineman Gregor Mackellar can’t make an impression.

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While it is the pre-season, plenty of jobs will be at stake Friday night when the Argos play host to the Ticats at the University of Guelph in what amounts to be the final audition.

Argos head coach Ryan Dinwiddie estimates roughly 75% of his opening night roster is somewhat established, but there are always surprises knowing all it takes is one play for a player to make an impression and earn a job.

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The Argos will have a bye week when the CFL kicks off its season next week.

The Argos kick into action on June 16 when Montreal pays a visit to BMO Field in Toronto’s season opener.

This weekend, rosters must be set at 46 players plus 10 on the practice roster and players moved to the injured list.

As for Harris and Rogers, two veterans who are among the very best at their positions, Dinwiddie assured one and all that there’s nothing to worry about.

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“Andrew is fine, he’s fully healthy,’’ said Dinwiddie. “He got the work done that he needed to and at this stage there are some guys I feel real comfortable with where they are at. He’ll be good to go Week 1.”

Dinwiddie has always spoken of a pitch count when it comes to Harris, but the thought was Harris would get at least a few reps Friday night.

He won’t and neither will Rogers, who is a beast to defend when he’s available.

A hamstring issue kept Rogers out of the lineup for most of last year’s 14-game season.

The CFL will be back to its familiar 18-game slate this year.

As Dinwiddie explained during his Thursday Zoom call, Rogers is dealing with a groin issue.

“He has a slight pull in his groin,’’ said Dinwiddie. “He can fight through it if he wanted to. At this stage, I didn’t think it was the right thing to do.

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“Let’s not put Eric in harm’s way … No point in making it potentially worse.”

The Argos know what they’ve got in players such as Harris and Rogers.

Timing is crucial when executing an offence.

In essence, the only time the Argos will get to see their first unit against an actual opponent will be against the Als in two weeks.

Unfortunately, second-year receiver Dejon Brissett continues to be sidelined with a hamstring injury, a setback Toronto’s first-round pick and second overall selection in 2020 suffered early in camp.

“He trained really hard this off-season,’’ said Dinwiddie of Brissett. “He was down in the dumps when that happened to him. He was looking forward to taking that step.”

According to Dinwiddie, Brissett is progressing well in his rehab, but it sounds like he’ll begin the season on the injured list.

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Veteran offensive guard Dariusz Bladek hasn’t practised the past few days with an undisclosed ailment and he won’t play Friday.

In his place, the Argos will start Gregor Mackellar, the team’s first-round pick from last month’s CFL draft and the sixth overall selection.

The St. Francis Xavier product started in Ottawa last week and got a rude welcome to the CFL when he was matched up against Cleyon Laing, one of the top interior linemen in three-down football.

The Argos like Mackellar and are hoping to see further growth.

“We drafted him in the first round for a reason,’’ said Dinwiddie when asked if Mackellar has a chance to make the team. “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.

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“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.”


All-star Chris Edwards is listed as the starter at strong side linebacker, better known as SAM.

He was handed a league-imposed six-game suspension following last year’s incident in the wake of Toronto’s home loss to Hamilton in the East final.

A reduction is likely, but it’s unlikely Edwards will be available when the regular season begins.

D’Angelo Amos is listed at backup for the pre-season finale.

He’ll get his chance to prove that he can play the position.

His brother, DaShaun Amos, will make his debut in Toronto’s secondary at halfback.

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“We’ve got a few different scenarios,’’ said Dinwiddie of Edwards’ possible replacements when the regular season rolls around.

“Let’s see if he (D’Angelo Amos) can take that job and run with it. There are guys we know where they’re at and guys who have to prove it (Friday night).”

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The Argos officially wrap their stay at the University of Guelph following Friday night’s preseason finale.

The university housed the team during last year’s training camp and has been the Argos’ unofficial home going way back to the `80s.

Being away from Toronto reduces the team’s profile and accessibility, but at the same time, there’s no better place to run a training camp than Guelph.

“Great facilities, great food,’’ said Dinwiddie. “They go above and beyond the expectations to make sure we’re having a great time. We’ve been taken care of and it’s been awesome.”

A long-term commitment should be considered.

When the Argos were in Guelph in 2016, the team bused it to Varsity Centre for a pre-season game, which isn’t exactly ideal from a logistics perspective.

The Ticats used the university as its home when Ivor Wynne Stadium was in the midst of being torn down to make way for Tim Hortons Field.

The Argos and Ticats played a Thanksgiving Day affair in Guelph back in 2013, an evening that would see Henry Burris outduel Ricky Ray.

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