Toronto Argonauts take cautious approach with quarterback Arbuckle, linebacker Muamba

Toronto Argonauts head coach Ryan Dinwiddie is erring on the side of caution regarding quarterback Nick Arbuckle and linebacker Henoc Muamba.

Arbuckle and Muamba are both nursing hamstring ailments as Toronto (3-3) prepares to host the Montreal Alouettes (2-4) on Friday night. Dinwiddie said Thursday he’ll wait another day before deciding the status of the two starters, although Dinwiddie hinted Arbuckle will likely be able to play.

“We’re kind of just taking it easy with him and seeing where he’s at,” Dinwiddie said of Arbuckle during a videoconference. “It seems to be progressing nicely.

“He practised, he feels like he’s good to go but we’ll talk with the trainers and see exactly where he is.”

Dinwiddie said Arbuckle suffered the injury in the third quarter of Toronto’s 30-16 road loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Friday night. Arbuckle finished the game, completing 22-of-33 passes for 309 yards with two TDs and an interception while rushing for five yards on three carries.

Veteran McLeod Bethel-Thompson started Toronto’s opening two games of the season after Arbuckle suffered a hamstring injury during training camp.

The six-foot-one, 213-pound Arbuckle is 2-2 since becoming Toronto’s starter. Arbuckle has completed 96-of-153 passes (62.7 per cent) for 1,158 yards with five touchdowns and also six interceptions.

But the former Calgary Stampeder has also fumbled six times, losing three.

“It’s got to get cleaned up,” Dinwiddie said of the turnovers. “I’d say he’s real loose with the football, especially in the pocket.

“I understand the pocket breaks down sometimes and guys are free around the quarterback but that’s no excuse for us to turn the football over. We’ve got to get it cleaned up, we’ve got to get better at it. We’ll have an answer, hopefully this week, as far as how we cleaned it up.”

The six-foot, 230-pound Muamba, the CFL’s top Canadian in 2019, is also in his first season with Toronto, having registered 22 tackles, one sack and an interception. The game against Montreal would be the 32-year-old Muamba’s first against the team he spent the 2018-19 seasons with before joining the Argos as a free agent.

“It’s a wait and see (but) I don’t see it happening,” Dinwiddie said regarding Muamba’s availability for Friday’s game. “He’s trying to get back but do we play him and lose him for a longer period of time just because guys want to win and they’re competitive?

“We want to get a win, too, right? We want to do whatever it takes to get the right guys on the field but we don’t want to jeopardize the rest of the season for him. We’ll see, I know he’s trying to push to get back but I’d say it’s probably 50-50 at this stage.”

If Muamba can’t play, Toronto would find itself down two starting Canadian linebackers. Cameron Judge (ankle) was also injured against Saskatchewan and is expected to miss multiple contests.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 22, 2021.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

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