Toronto Argos linebacker Wynton McManis hopeful about playing in CFL's East final

TORONTO — The injury news continues to get better for Ryan Dinwiddie and the Toronto Argonauts.

Last week, the CFL team announced veteran Canadian running back Andrew Harris had resumed practising after suffering a torn pectoral muscle in a 34-27 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Aug. 12. The 35-year-old Winnipeg native required what was thought to be season-ending surgery at the time but will play Sunday when Toronto hosts the Montreal Alouettes in the East final.

And linebacker Wynton McManis, Toronto's outstanding defensive player nominee, could join him. The six-foot-one, 225-pound McManis has been out since suffering a knee injury in a 29-2 loss to the Calgary Stampeders on Oct. 1 but practised Wednesday with the Argos.

"I've got wolverine blood," McManus said with a chuckle. "Everything felt good.

"It was good to be out there moving around and back with the guys on the team. When you're away from the game that long, you miss it and it was just a joy to be back out there, honestly. We'll see (about playing Sunday) but things went well and I'm feeling good."

And that's music to Dinwiddie's ears.

"It (having McManis back) gives the guys more confidence going into the game having your defensive leader back," said Dinwiddie, the Argos head coach. "He brings leadership but we also know he's going to be a very effective player, he makes us better as a football club.

"He had a good day out there, he felt good and that's the main thing. We worked him out two days ago to see if he was officially back and he looked good. I feel confident we should be OK but we won't know until (Thursday) when we'll look to see if there's any setbacks."

The Argos announced seats in the upper east side of BMO Field for the division final would be released for sale, starting Wednesday. As well, Roy Woods, one of Toronto's most popular R&B/Hip-Hop artists will perform at halftime.

And the first 10,000 fans into BMO Field will receive a limited-edition Argos crew neck sweater upon entry.

McManis made 14 straight starts for Toronto before his injury. Despite missing the final four regular-season games, McManis finished the season as the Argos' leading tackler (88) while adding seven special-teams tackles, three sacks, two interceptions and a forced fumble.

Toronto won the season series with Montreal 2-1. McManis missed the Argos final two meetings with the Alouettes but had a game-high seven tackles and a sack in the first meeting, a 20-19 home win for the Double Blue on June 16.

However, McManis said being out of action for over a month was difficult to deal with.

"It's hard to feel like you're still a part of the team," he said. "As much as you can do to help out and be there, just not being on the field is hard and you have that feeling you're not a part of it.

"Being able to get out on the field and get myself to practise and bring the energy instead of just being on the sidelines, that's big."

The selection as Toronto's outstanding defensive player nominee was very special for McManis.

"That's always good, always something to look forward to," he said. "To be looked at in that way … that's very big for me."

And so to is a chance to compete for a second Grey Cup championship ring. McManis earned one in 2018 with the Calgary Stampeders.

"It's the opportunity in front of the team right now," McManis said. "It would be big for me to be able to come back and help out with that.

"I'd love to be a part of it and that's what we're working toward. In my mind, I'm always playing. We'll see but God willing."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 9, 2022.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press