Chad Kelly won’t be the only member of the Toronto Argonauts resting when his team takes on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Friday.
In addition to moving their starting quarterback to the bench in favour of backup Cameron Dukes, the already-crowned East Division leaders will be taking a cautious approach with three defensive starters. Cornerback Jamal Peters (groin) and linebacker Wynton McManis (ankle) have both been placed on the one-game injured list, while defensive tackle Shawn Oakman is expected to be a healthy scratch.
A CFL all-star in 2022, Peters has played 11 games for the Argos this season after returning from a failed NFL stint. The 26-year-old has collected 25 defensive tackles, four interceptions and two forced fumbles. Meanwhile, McManis has been the leader of Toronto’s defence since joining the team last offseason, notching 70 defensive tackles, three sacks and three interceptions, including a pick-six last week.
The pair will be replaced by backups already in the lineup, as Jonathan Jones will slide in at weakside linebacker and Canadian Jamie Harry will make his first start of the season at cornerback. Veteran defensive back Robert Priester will return to the lineup in a backup capacity after missing most of the year with a foot injury.
Oakman has dressed for 11 games in a relatively quiet 2023 season, registering 18 tackles, four sacks and a forced fumble. Scratching him allows for the return of Jared Brinkman, who impressed as a run defender in five starts earlier this year.
Rookie receiver Rajae’ Johnson has been added to the six-game injured list after making his CFL debut last week, but it isn’t all bad news for the Argos offence. Backup receiver Jeremiah Haydel is back in the lineup and running back A.J. Ouellette returns after being a healthy scratch last week. He needs just 132 yards to cross the thousand-yard mark this season.
The addition of the workhorse back should help Cameron Dukes in his first career start at quarterback. The rookie out of Lindsey Wilson College in the NAIA has only seen action in one game this year as he completed eight-of-fifteen pass attempts for 63 yards and one interception in a loss to the Calgary Stampeders. Kelly will remain in uniform as the team’s third-string quarterback, behind Bryan Scott.
The Argonauts (12-1) will visit the Blue Bombers (10-4) on Friday, Sept. 29 with kickoff slated for 8:00 p.m. EDT. A sellout crowd of 32,343 is expected for the first and only meeting between last year’s Grey Cup competitors this season.