- Xs and Argos Staff
Ambles Signing a Perfect Fit
Photo: Courtesy Calgary Stampeders
On Thursday, the Argonauts officially added what may be the final piece of their starting receiver group, signing American WR Markeith Ambles.
“Final piece” is a bit misleading since Toronto has shown they’ll continue to sign dozens of players in the lead up to training camp, but it would be surprising if the Argonauts don’t trot out DaVaris Daniels, Eric Rogers, Kurleigh Gittens Jr., Juwan Brescacin, and Markeith Ambles as their starting receivers.
All but Gittens Jr. have played in Calgary with members of this same coaching staff, so it doesn’t take too much imagination to theorize where they’ll line up.
Coach Dinwiddie will likely keep the status quo on the boundary side with Daniels once again playing X and Rogers in the slot at W. The field side starts with Brescacin playing in the middle slot at Y where he played last year in Toronto and in previous years in Calgary. Ambles is best suited to being a slot receiver, and though he saw a lot of time at W in Calgary, he has moved around far more than Rogers has over his career, so it makes more sense for Rogers to continue playing that spot. When this group (minus Gittens Jr) was together in Calgary they rarely got onto the field at the same time due to injuries, but there was a span where Ambles played the #3 to the field at R with Brescacin at Y and Rogers at W, and this is how they’ll likely start the 2022 season in Toronto. Gittens Jr., meanwhile, had his breakout season at Z, so it’s hard to imagine anyone being in a hurry to change that up, especially when every other piece fits so nicely into place.
Last season, Ambles had a career high in receptions and yardage at 54 for 686. His yardage would have led the Argos last season, and he would have been one reception short of Ricky Collins Junior’s team-leading 55.
Ambles just turned 30 and has been around the CFL since 2016 when the Argonauts first brought him in. He’s a big, sure-handed target at 6’2, 200lbs, a great route-runner, and a proficient run-blocker. He tracks the ball extremely well, and like Brescacin and Rogers, does a great job using his body to box out defenders. He doesn’t have the speed we were hoping to see from the R position, but there’s nothing saying there can’t be situational replacements throughout the game to keep defenses on their toes and open up space.
The most interesting thing about this signing is it suggests the Argos are looking to increase the effectiveness of their ground attack and compliment it with their RPO and play-action game. They’ve now got five good blockers at receiver, a bell cow back in Andrew Harris, and their entire offensive line is returning. A consistent running attack would help them close games, take some pressure off quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson, and reduce the unsustainable number of hits he took last season.