Unexpected Argos backup QB competition to continue after win over Ticats

Toronto Argonauts head coach Marc Trestman wouldn’t asses the play of quarterbacks McLeod Bethel-Thompson or James Franklin from his naked-eye observations after the win over the Ticats on Friday – always the perfectionist, he needs to watch the film first – but he offered: the competition will continue for the backup spot behind future Hall of Famer Ricky Ray.

The 38-year-old Ray is the entrenched starter and Trestman has made crystal clear that it’s disrespectful to ask otherwise. And even though the Argos traded a promising young Canadian offensive lineman in Mason Woods to acquire Franklin, he has to earn the number two quarterback role despite his salary.

“One thing I learned from my parents is to be patient. Not to get upset, complaining or bickering, that’s not going to help anything. Just trying to keep a good attitude, be positive, keep doing my best to improve in the offence and whatever happens will happen,” Franklin said.

“I used to let what coaches say bother me a lot, especially when I was in college and I realized the only thing it affects is how I think, how I play, how I feel, so it doesn’t matter what they say just try to be myself. And they’re the ones that make the decisions. As long as I can have some patience and not get too upset or frustrated then things will work out.”

Franklin, who signed a two-year contract extension after the Argos traded for the 26-year-old, hit on 8-of-10 passes for 73 yards and one interception in his 30 minutes of action. He’s been working on picking up Trestman’s offence as quickly as possible.

“It seemed pretty simple, pretty easy, I felt comfortable with it going through the progressions and process,” Franklin said.

“It was an adjustment at first, but as far as how it’s run I love the detail. It’s pretty similar to what I ran in Edmonton, our verbiage was a little bit different. I’ve really been enjoying it.”

McLeod-Bethel Thompson got the start on Friday night in Hamilton for Toronto’s first pre-season game, which would indicate the 29-year-old is the leader for the No. 2 job. Thompson spent the entire 2017 season with the Argos learning Trestman’s offence. That time has helped Thompson get comfortable in the offence and it showed by the 6-foot-4, 230-pound passer completing 9-of-11 passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns during his 30 minutes against the Ticats.

“I was honoured and appreciated the start. Coach Trestman has helped me not only as a football player but as a man. I still have a lot to learn, it’s a process. You gotta execute on the field,” Thompson said.

Thompson spent six years bouncing around the NFL with the 49ers, Dolphins, Vikings, Patriots and Eagles. He actually spent just under a month on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers practice roster in 2016.

“You have to learn the intricacies of the game and you have to humble yourself,” Thompson said. You come up here and the players are excellent.”

And so the battle wages on. Toronto will play their last pre-season game in Guelph against Ottawa on June 7 – the final showdown in what’s become an intriguing, if somewhat unexpected, battle.

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