- Ben Grant
There weren't nearly as many new faces in camp this season with most of Toronto's 2021 roster returning, but there was an interesting assortment of Canadian and Global draft picks, American rookies, and CFL veterans coming in from other teams.
Chad Kelly (12) looked a lot more polished and poised than I thought he would this early on. This is McLeod Bethel-Thompson's team in 2022, but Kelly will be a CFL starter sooner rather than later. Kelly picked the defense apart in a redzone session and looked like a leader out there.
This guy. Brandon Banks (16) was fun to watch with the first unit. He's not what he was, but he's still excellent. He weaves so well through traffic, he's impossible to keep up with down near the goal line. McLeod Bethel-Thompson connected with the former Ti-Cat on a drag route from five yards out early in practice and there was nothing the defense could do.
Andrew Harris (33) probably won't see a lot of action in Ottawa on Friday, but he'll need to be a big contributor this season. Fans are hoping it's the opposite case for Justin Lawrence (54) who is filling in at center for East All-Star Peter Nicastro while he continues to work his way back from injury. There's nothing wrong with Lawrence as a center, but the line isn't the same without Nicastro. As for Harris, he's had quite an impact on the team so far. Even the play-calling today seemed predicated on the fact that Harris was in the backfield.
Isaiah Wright (87) is trying to make a name for himself as a receiver in Toronto, but it was his special teams play which got my attention. The Argonauts tasked a number of new players with return duties today, including RB Javon Leake, who also looked like he was shot out of a cannon.
Jachai Polite (98) somehow looks much bigger in person than his official height and weight would suggest. He will be an intriguing player to watch in the preseason. If he can regain the form that had him projected as an NFL first round draft pick, there will be some difficult decisions to be made.
Speaking of difficult decisions on the defensive line, here are some of the men that are making the decision such a hard one. Sam Acheampong (96) is locked in, and it's hard to imagine Dewayne Hendrix (99) going anywhere. But back to the "new faces", recently unretired veteran Adrian Tracy (23) and recently signed rookie Deionte Knight (77) looked impressive today.
John Haggerty (71) can punt. Like really punt. To the point where I expect the Argos to dress both he and Bede, so Boris can focus on his record-setting kicking. Haggerty is also an outstanding athlete as well as being a physical presence on the field which opens up all sorts of exciting possibilities. It's funny to think that Bede is the short punter at 6'4".
Open all day long, Damonte Coxie (86) looked impressive. AJ Richardson and Jamari Hester were among the other big American receivers who had the defense struggling with mismatches. None of these players are likely to start, and even the backup roles look crowded at this point, so a lot of talented players from this group could be looking to catch on with a new team soon.
Daniel Adeboboye (21) is another rookie who looks nothing like a rookie. Mike Hogan recently wrote about how Adeboboye can't get his quads into most pairs of pants, and it's not like his upper body is small. When I took this photo, I briefly wondered whose shoulder pads he was carrying, not realizing he wasn't wearing his. Adeboboye has great footwork out of the backfield. He's been very well coached, and more importantly, he's obviously retained what he's been taught.
Training camp is open to the public on most days and is definitely worth the drive to Guelph if you have the time. You can find an up-to-date training camp roster on our site to help you navigate a crowded practice field. And bring an umbrella. I don't care what your weather app says.