The Toronto Argonauts have been able to rely on Terrance Plummer to shore up their linebacker corps, turning him into something of a Mr. Versatility at the position.
Now, Plummer’s versatility will be needed more than at any other point this season, as the Argos push closer to clinching first place in the CFL’s East Division.
The Argos can claim the East crown with a win over Saskatchewan on Saturday and an Ottawa loss in B.C. later that night. That would bring the first Argos playoff game to BMO Field, and the first post-season game in Toronto since 2012.
Injuries, however, and the presence of former NFL first-rounder Trent Richardson in the Saskatchewan backfield have set up a formidable hurdle for the 7-7 Argos.
Plummer will replace linebacker Marcus Ball, who suffered a leg injury last Saturday in Hamilton and is listed as week to week. Plummer started for the first time against the Ticats but he has shown he can handle all three linebacker positions.
“I think I’ve been able to do it and help this team, and I hope I can keep doing that,” Plummer said Thursday.
The Argos, who will also be without offensive lineman Chris Van Zeyl (foor) again, have weathered several injuries in their defensive secondary, the loss of quarterback Ricky Ray for two games, and longer absences for defensive lineman Victor Butler and receiver DeVier Posey.
Plummer is a familiar face with the Argos defence.
“Terrence is in on certain (defensive) packages, so he’s been out there in games, but he’ll take on a more active role with Marcus out,” Argos coach Marc Trestman said.
“He has great football instincts. He’s inexperienced, but he’s gained experience throughout this season by being there for us.”
Plummer feels that if it wasn’t for his versatility, he might not be on the team. A product of the University of Central Florida, he was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Washington Redskins in 2015. He played three games there, then had an on-again, off-again relationship with Minnesota before joining the Argos’ practice roster last October.
He tipped the scales at 244 pounds as a middle linebacker in the NFL, but has trimmed down to 230 for the CFL game.
It seems a big part of his career has been about handling adjustments.
“I embrace that challenge, and the coaching staff always makes sure I’m prepared,” Plummer said. “They want you to embrace the concept of the defence, not just look at individual plays, so that’s in your head from day one. I never look at this as a challenge I can’t do.”
Plummer played all three linebacker positions as far back as high school, where his Florida team was a rival of the school that produced Argos linebacker Bear Woods.
“He’s been a big factor for us, he’s played all three linebacker positions, and he’s a hometown guy for me,” Woods said. “But I am a bit older than he is, so I never got to play against him in high school.”
Plummer credits Woods, Ball and others in the Argos room for their support and constant communication in learning the defence.
“It’s all about the next man up, if there’s an injury,” Plummer said. “But its about the team too, and that’s what the coaches ask of you, to understand the team concept. I think that’s why I’ve been able to do what I do.”