CFL: Argonauts embrace underdog role, open season vs. Lions

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Despite coming off a 16-win season, expectations are lower for the Toronto Argonauts as they open their season against the visiting B.C. Lions on Sunday night.

“I actually like being an underdog,” Toronto coach Ryan Dinwiddie said. “I’m looking forward to that. I think it might add some fire in our locker room where everyone is doubting us.”

Toronto will be without several key players from last season, including suspended quarterback Chad Kelly. The CFL’s Most Outstanding Player last season, Kelly will miss at least the first nine regular-season games for violating the CFL’s gender-based violence policy.

Cameron Dukes will start at quarterback behind an intact offensive line that allowed a CFL-low 19 sacks last season. The Argonauts have won nine straight regular-season home games and their past three at home against the Lions.

The Argonauts have a 36-14 regular-season record in three years under Dinwiddie that includes a 2022 Grey Cup victory.

They failed to repeat in 2023 after a 16-2 regular season — tying the CFL mark for most victories — when they lost the East Division final 38-17 to the Montreal Alouettes.

Argonaut departures include running back A.J. Ouellette, defensive backs Jamal Peters and Adarius Pickett, linebacker Jordan Williams and receiver Kurleigh Gittens Jr. Additions include defensive lineman Jake Ceresna and running back Ka’Deem Carey.

B.C. is led by quarterback Vernon Adams Jr., who topped the league in passing (4,769 yards) last year and was second in TDs (31).

Adams threw six interceptions when B.C. lost 45-24 last July 3 at Toronto.

B.C. has a more balanced attack this season with the addition of running back William Stanback, who played with Adams in Montreal.

“(The loss in Toronto) was last year, it was early in the season, so I don’t even think about it much,” said Adams, who threw for three touchdowns and 388 yards on 24-for-39 passing in the game. “It was a nightmare when it happened. … I’m excited to get this thing going, taking it one game at a time and trying to be better than I was last year.”

B.C. was 12-6 last season, losing to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the West final.

B.C.’s additions include receiver Travis Fulgham, defensive tackle Christian Covington and Stanback. Among the departures were defensive lineman Mathieu Betts and receiver Dominique Rhymes.

–Field Level Media

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