Toronto Argonauts coach Marc Trestman doesn’t seem completely convinced that Duron Carter is a good fit for his football club.
Trestman said Monday that Carter won’t play in the Argos’ home-and-home Labour Day series with the arch-rival Hamilton Tiger-Cats and said there’s no timetable regarding when Carter will play. He’ll be given every opportunity to fit in with his new teammates and become comfortable with Toronto’s offence.
Getting comfortable with the Trestman way of doing things – he’s notoriously detail-oriented – will also be important.
“I know his background, I know what he’s done and I’ve had a couple of conversations with him,” Trestman said. “It remains to be seen: Will he come in and work? Will he get acclimated in a way that our team is comfortable with?
“We’ve got high expectations. The thing we have in our locker room is a bunch of guys who get excited when new guys come in because they want to help them along.”
Trestman’s decision, though, is interesting given the importance of the two games versus the Ticats. Hamilton (4-5) holds second in the East over Toronto (3-6) with the cross-over looming _ Winnipeg (5-5) and Saskatchewan (5-4) are both tied for third in the West.
Carter, 27, said he’s willing to prove himself to his new coaches and teammates.
“It’s my job to come in here and earn my spot,” he said. “That’s what I’ve done every place I’ve ever been, come in and earn my spot as a receiver.
“As soon as I do that you’ll see me on the field.”
Carter has 266 catches for 4,031 yards with 26 TDs in 65 career CFL games with Montreal and Saskatchewan and twice was a league all-star (2014, ’17). Carter was the Riders leading receiver last year (73 catches, 1,043 yards, eight TDs) last year and made six starts at cornerback over two seasons (one in 2017, five this year).
He said he received multiple offers in free agency but settled upon Toronto partly because of his familiarity with Argos GM Jim Popp, receiver S.J. Green and linebacker Bear Woods. Carter began his CFL career with Montreal in 2013 when Popp was the club’s GM and both Green and Woods were players on the team.
But Carter was also intrigued to play in Toronto head coach Marc Trestman’s structure. That’s saying something for a player who was suspended for a game in 2016 after bumping into Ottawa head coach Rick Campbell and twice has been released amid reports he was involved in altercations with teammates.
“A lot of people get into my ‘antics’ but he’s really into football, he knows everything,” Carter said. “Just by being here one day listening to the meetings he knows his football and that’s one thing I definitely appreciate a lot.
“Having his tenure as a coach, the receivers he’s worked with I mean he’s worked with my dad in the NFL. Just being able to pick his brain and know what he knows offensively I think would be a great thing. His goal isn’t to win Grey Cups, his goal is to make better men and that’s why I’m here.”
Trestman, 62, has enjoyed a successful and well-travelled coaching career spanning the NCAA, NFL and CFL. He was Minnesota’s quarterback coach in 1990 when Cris Carter joined the Vikings after being cut by the Philadelphia Eagles because of alcohol and drug abuse.
The elder Carter was an eight-time Pro Bowler over his 12 seasons in Minnesota. He was named to the NFL’s all-1990s decade team and in 2013 was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Green believes playing for Trestman will benefit the younger Carter.
“In Montreal we didn’t have that structure from the top down and here we do,” Green said. “With that being said I feel like this is something that’s new for him that could possibly help him continue to grow and elevate as a person.”
Green said his advice to Carter was very simple.
“Just be a sponge, be a fly on the wall, be quiet and just take it all in,” he said. “Don’t have much to say, just listen.
“When the time comes (when Carter plays for Argos) I can guarantee you all the attention won’t be on me.”
Carter said when Trestman reached out to him, the coach’s message was short and sweet.
“The first text message he sent me was, ‘This is going to be the hardest test of your career,”’ Carter said. “And I said, ‘I’m ready to work, coach.’
“I think that’s going to start our relationship on a good foot, me coming out here just ready to work and prove myself.”
Trestman said he was simply up front with Carter.
“I was very clear to him, he hasn’t made it in any situation that he’s been in,” Trestman said. “We went through everything and I was very honest with him.
“What makes him think that he can make it here? I didn’t ask him to answer the question but I did ask him the question that why should this be any different? But we’ve got a lot of people here that are going to give him every chance like they do every other guy. Duron knows that, he’s a smart young man and he’s well equipped to handle that.”
Woods said stories written about Duron Carter haven’t always been factual.
“I can tell you in Montreal I read stories about Duron . . . and those things didn’t happen like they were written,” Woods said. “As a team we welcome everybody into this locker room and if you’re willing to work, you’re willing to love your teammates, this is the place for any pro athlete that wants those two things.”
Carter said his release from Saskatchewan affected him.
“I think getting fired would make anybody examine how they are in their job,” he said. “But for me it’s all just a learning process.
“I’m 27 and hope to play until I’m about 47 so I just want to be a better person, be a better player and I know that leads to getting championships. Hopefully this could be a spot for me.”
– with files from CP