And now we wait: wannabe Argos nervous as cutdown day looms

Now the long wait begins for Trumaine Washington, Brandon Burks and all the other Toronto Argonauts hopefuls.

Toronto concluded its exhibition schedule Thursday night with a 32-17 loss to the Ottawa Redblacks in Guelph, Ont. The players no longer control their fate as the Argos’ brass has until 10 a.m. ET on Sunday to make their final cuts.

“That’s going to be pretty tough just knowing they only have a few roster spots left,” Washington said. “I’m just going to sit in my room and pray about it and when it’s time to go to lunch make sure I communicate with the team.

“This is a great locker room with great football players so I’ll make sure I communicate with them and pray for the best.”

CFL teams must reduce their rosters to 46 active players. They can also keep up to 10 more on the practice roster.

Toronto begins its Grey Cup defence next Friday visiting the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The Argos will return to BMO Field for their home opener June 23 in a championship rematch versus the Calgary Stampeders.

Washington, 22, enjoyed a stellar camp with Toronto. The five-foot-eight, 190-pound rookie defensive back had nine tackles, one sack, an interception, forced fumble and a fumble recovery in the two exhibition games.

“I think I did solid but I could’ve done better,” he said. “Playing with these guys, they set a standard, they want everybody to play fast and go fast in everything you do and run to the ball so that was my main focus.

“I played with my eyes and made sure I knew my keys and plays.”

Burks, 24, has dealt with the uncertainty that is pro football. The former Troy star joined the Argos this off-season after being released by both the New York Jets and Green Bay Packers.

“I’ve been through this process a couple of times so you can’t have your mind psyched up for one thing because it can let you down,” Burks said. “I feel like I did enough so I could stay but sometimes you can do enough and that might not be it because there’s a lot of great players here.”

Burks also played in both exhibition games. The five-foot-eight, 218-pound running back rushed for 69 yards on 13 carries (5.31-yard average) while adding two catches for 42 yards.

Burks showed he has the quickness and acceleration to play Canadian football but admitted two games to impress isn’t enough.

“I feel like I did all I could do but the man in me feels I could do more on the field,” he said. “But we only get two opportunities so you’ve got to make the best of them.

“I’m just happy for this opportunity. I could be on the couch but I’m out here playing ball. I just take my hat off to these guys for enjoying me and letting me be on the team.”

Like Washington, Burks hopes to spend time with teammates while the club decided their fates.

“I thank God I came out of the game healthy,” he said. “I’ll get out with these teammates and just enjoy it.

“I start Monday or I go home and start over.”

Canadian receiver Alex Charette will also anxiously await Toronto’s decision. A 2015 fourth-round pick of the Montreal Alouettes, the former Guelph Gryphon from St. Catharines, Ont., joined the Argos’ practice roster last August.

The six-foot-one, 200-pound Charette had five catches for 91 yards in the two exhibition games, including a 63-yard TD grab Thursday night at his alma mater.

“There’s an old Guelph saying we used to say,’ The hay is in the barn,”’ he said. “Like Marc (Argos head coach Marc Trestman) says, it’s not just this team there are eight other teams watching so you want to put your best on film each and every day.”

Charette said he’s learned plenty from Trestman during training camp.

“How to be a professional, how to be a leader and a lot about football,” Charette said. “I’m very appreciative of him as a head coach.”

James Franklin is also anxiously waiting. Although a lock to make the team, it’s unclear whether Franklin will be the backup to starter Ricky Ray or No. 3 quarterback behind McLeod Bethel-Thompson.

“Obviously the goal is to be the (starter) but that’s definitely not happening,” Franklin said. “Whatever they decide after that you just have to good with, be respectful and make sure you’re not being selfish and making it about you.”

– CP

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