Argos likely to be without Andrew Harris for next game after Hamilton injury

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As if to add insult to injury, the Argonauts will likely be without future Hall of Fame running back Andrew Harris for their home game against Calgary next Saturday, and beyond.

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Injuries plagued the Argos before and during their 34-27 loss to Hamilton on Friday, their woes beginning in pregame warmups when starting receiver Cam Phillips suffered a groin injury.

Harris hurt his shoulder on Toronto’s first touchdown of the night late in the first quarter and was immediately escorted to the locker room.

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When he returned, Harris was in street clothes and watched the rest of the game from the Argos bench.

AJ Ouellette — like Harris, a downhill runner, but not as big — took over as star running back, ripping a 27-yard run on his first play. But he, too, took a beating, forcing the Argos to follow the Canadian rookie Ben Adeboboye in the final stretch.

Harris suffered a hamstring injury during camp and was ruled out of Toronto’s two preseason games.
He’s yet to run for a touchdown and crossed the line for the first time in Double Blue in last weekend’s win over the Ticats at BMO Field when he had a two-point convert.

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In Regina, Harris became the first Canadian to eclipse 10,000 career rushing yards, the same night he rushed in for a season-high 143 yards.

But in the next three games, Harris passed for just 83 yards, including 19 on three carries before being injured on Friday night.

With the Argos 4-4 coming halfway through the schedule with their date against the Stamps on Saturday, they must find a way to establish a run game.

Toronto could only get 69 yards against the Tabbies and when backup QB Chad Kelly entered the game with a short yardage to score that opening TD, it was the Argos’ first rushing major of the season.

The score was set up on a Robbie Smith interception.

For the second week in a row, the Argos didn’t commit a turnover, but there were numerous mental and physical errors that resulted in the pitch being knocked down or big plays given up.

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THE BANKING DILEMMA

Argos wide receiver Brandon Banks was targeted eight times on his return to the Hammer, but only two completed passes were made.

Banks and QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson continue to build chemistry, but nothing seems to work.

What’s worse is the way the Argos go out of their way to force-feed Banks with the ball.

However, he no longer has that explosive advantage, and there’s no point in using him on the pitch when his lack of size leads to misses.

He drew a pass interference call, late in the second quarter, against Ciante Evans, even though match officials did not throw a flag on the initial play.

An Argos challenge flag and overturned call marked the Ticats’ first of three penalties as Toronto finished the first half with MBT hitting DaVaris Daniels for a six-yard strike and a 20-14 lead.

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Other than setting up a late field goal in Regina two weeks ago, Banks did next to nothing when used on the punt return.

At this point in his career, he’s best suited as a situational player who needs a lot more creative hitting than the Argos are doing right now, which isn’t much.

RISING TEMPERATURES

The first of four between Toronto and Hamilton last week produced seven penalties for a total of 103 yards. In the bitter rematch, with the intensity clearly increasing, a total of 21 flags were thrown for 248 yards.

The rivalry resumes Aug. 26 when Hamilton returns to BMO, followed by the Labor Day Classic at Tim Hortons Field.

The Ticats will host Montreal this Saturday afternoon in a big divisional duel.

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Both teams are tied for second in the East at 3-6, with the Alouettes claiming a shocking overtime win over the previously undefeated Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Thursday night.

No one is going to give Toronto much of a chance against the Stampeders, who always seem to beat the Boatmen…unless there’s a Gray Cup on the line.

The East is suddenly tight and it will only get tighter in the coming weeks.

OUT OF THE WOOD

Kick returner Lawrence Woods made a mental mistake in Hamilton’s 34-20 loss at BMO when he lined up a punt inside his five-yard line that ultimately led to a conceded safety.

In the rematch, Woods set the tone early with a long punt return.

In the evening, he averaged 25.5 yards on six returns. He added 69 kickoff return yards for a whopping 222 combined yards.

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Woods also returned a punt for a touchdown, but was called up on a penalty.

Toronto’s punt coverage unit was horrible and even extended a Ticats drive following a roughing penalty from the kicker who backed up the Argos when they regained possession.

Banks averaged 9.0 yards on five punt returns, while Kurleigh Gittens Jr. returned five kickoffs for 106 yards.
Javon Leake, a running back by trade, is eligible to come off the six-game injured list for the Stamps’ contest next weekend and should be available for the Argonauts, who desperately need a comeback.

IN NUMBERS

MBT hasn’t thrown an interception in three straight games… For the second time this season, emotions got the better of the veteran QB when the Argos took the offense off the field in the third and inches in the fourth quarter. The previous outburst came in BC when MBT was replaced by Kelly midway through the fourth quarter as the Argos were routed… A week ago at BMO, the Argos outscored the Ticats 28-6 in the second half. Friday night in the Hammer, the Ticats reversed the scenario by beating the Argos 24-6. Going into the night, Hamilton had been outscored 134-58 in the second half, including a 95-29 disparity in the fourth quarter.

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