Bethel-Thompson, Banks still adjusting to one another within Argonauts' offence

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·6 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

The feeling-out process between quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson and receiver Brandon Banks continues.

Bethel-Thompson found Banks three times for 24 yards in the Toronto Argonauts' 30-24 victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Saturday afternoon in the '22 Touchdown Atlantic contest in Wolfville, N.S. That included an important two-point conversion following Wynton McManis's 50-yard interception return TD with just over two minutes to play.

But Bethel-Thompson targeted Banks a game-high 10 times Saturday. So far this season, Bethel-Thompson has thrown 28 passes Banks's way, connecting 13 times for 185 yards and two TDs.

"He's such a great feel player and I'm a feel player," Bethel-Thompson said. "Right now we're feeling different things.

"I'm feeling round, he's seeing square. He's seeing triangle I'm seeing octagon. We've just got to get on the same page and that just comes with time and chemistry. I know he'll put the work in, I know I'll put the work in."

The need for a period of adjustment is understandable given the five-foot-seven, 150-pound Banks is in his first year with Toronto. The 34-year-old signed as a free agent after eight seasons with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Banks registered 422 catches for 5,678 yards and 44 TDs over 111 career regular-season contests with Hamilton. He was the CFL's outstanding player in 2019 (club-record 112 catches, 1,550 yards, 13 TDs) and helped the Ticats make four Grey Cup appearances.

Bethel-Thompson finished 26-of-37 passing for 276 yards with two TDs and an interception versus the Riders. While the veteran quarterback had several near-misses with Banks, Bethel-Thompson felt that was the story of Toronto's offence Saturday afternoon.

And the two teams meet again Saturday, this time at Mosaic Stadium.

"Across the board it wasn't our best showing, that's for sure, on offence," he said. "There was a lot of points left out there . . . there's a lot to get better at this week.

"We're going to Saskatchewan, a hard place to play so it's a big week."

And it will certainly be an interesting rematch.

Saturday's game was a chippy affair with 25 combined penalties for 285 penalty yards (Toronto 14 for 153 yards, Saskatchewan 11 for 132 yards). Toronto defensive back Jamal Peters was ejected in the fourth after receiving his second misconduct foul.

Things got testy during the warm-up when Riders receiver Duke Williams and Argos defensive back Shaq Richardson became involved. Video of the incident showed Williams picking up Richardson's helmet and throwing it at him before the two players were separated.

No penalties were issued and both Williams and Richardson played with their respective units.

Afterwards, Toronto head coach Ryan Dinwiddie accused Williams of spitting in Richardson's face twice — in the pre-game incident as well as in the second half. He said the two players have a history dating back two years.

The bad blood was surprising given this was the first regular-season meeting between Toronto and Saskatchewan. And while both teams were in Halifax to play football, the Touchdown Atlantic theme all week was one of fun and enjoyment.

But Dinwiddie wondered if that helped perpetuate matters.

"It's almost like a college bowl game," he said. "You're here for a few days and the guys go out to have dinner and see each other.

"I think guys just understand at this stage of the season we needed a win. I'm sure they felt like they needed a win. Who knows? Some of those guys have past relationships from previous years. I don't know."

Bethel-Thompson provided a unique perspective.

"It's the CFL, it's a dogfight every week," he said. "Unfortunately that's ugly, we don't want to bring that kind of energy but guys get passionate.

"The guys in the CFL love playing football. Having spent time down south and coming up here, guys here have scars. The game has been taken away from them at times. They play with a different level of passion, they love the game to their core, they identify with the game. It's a special, special group and sometimes that goes over and overflows. We all have to learn from that."

The Riders will await word from the CFL this week regarding if Williams will be disciplined. Saskatchewan is already minus defensive tackle Garrett Marino, who received a four-game suspension last week for his actions on a low hit against Ottawa Redblacks quarterback Jeremiah Masoli.

Argos linebacker Henoc Muamba doesn't believe the animosity of Saturday's contest will spill over into the rematch.

"No, not at all," he said. "The score is going to be 0-0, we've got to execute.

"Our job as players is to execute. We're football players at the end of the day, we're going out there to play football. We want to be the best we can be so we try to take steps forward."

Saskatchewan linebacker Derrick Moncreif agreed.

"Definitely not," he said. "All of that doesn't matter, we've just got to play football.

"We've got to play smart, we've got to play together in all three phases. We know we've got to execute better when it comes down to it."

Another uncertainty for Saskatchewan will be the status of starter Cody Fajardo. He's been wearing a brace on his left knee since the second week of the season and took a hard shot there in the first half while being sacked by Toronto's Shawn Oakman.

After the game, Fajardo said his knee felt, 'terrible,' and remained unsure whether he'd be able to play Saturday.

For a second straight week, Toronto running back Andrew Harris will chase a career milestone. The Winnipeg native needs just 75 yards to become the first Canadian and sixth CFL player to reach the 10,000-yard rushing plateau.

The five-foot-11, 216-pound Harris remains the top-rushing Canadian in league history and is 360 yards behind Hall of Famer Charles Roberts (10,285) for sixth on the league's all-time list.

On Saturday, Harris moved past Hall of Fame receiver Milt Stegall (15,209) into fourth in all-time yards from scrimmage. Harris currently has 15,228 yards.

But despite the accomplishment and win, Harris was visibly upset with the Argos' performance _ both during and after the contest.

"Andrew is the ultimate professional," Bethel-Thompson said. "He's a champion, a champion's champion.

"He was really frustrated we weren't on our p's and q's . . . it was sloppy. I love that he's p----- off, I love that he didn't like that, I love that there's a dog in him that wants perfection. We want that great chemistry, we want that flow, we want every play to be good so we're going to follow his lead and we're going to listen to him this week."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 17, 2022.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting