Dinwiddie ‘expects’ to be in Ottawa for Friday night’s tilt as CFL’s labour uncertainty swirls

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A walkthrough was executed, a depth chart was released and various player rotations in different positions on the field were discussed.

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It’s game on for the Argos, even though there may not be a game to be played Friday night in Ottawa, albeit a pre-season game, which will represent Toronto’s first exhibition game since 2019 and the very first for Ryan Dinwiddie as the team’s head coach.

Welcome to the gong show that has become the CFL and its on-again, off-again negotiations with its players’ association.

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The biggest casualties in this labour impasse are equipment managers and their loyal assistants, the heart and soul of the CFL.

In normal times, travelling teams hop on a plane the day before kickoff.

In these abnormal times, the Argos had to call a pre-snap audible, which was to be expected given the swirling uncertainty.

Dinwiddie is optimistic a game will be played, but he has no other choice.

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Cuts must be made this weekend and players need to be evaluated.

The Argos are loaded with a veteran-laden group.

At the same time, identifying young talent capable of pushing the old guard is always a key for any team serious about making a run.

Assuming there is a game, the mandate for Dinwiddie is to give the majority of the reps to the team’s youngsters.

“We’ve got some tough decisions there,’’ he said. “The first game is never really for the vets. You want to get them going in the second game.”

The Argos are scheduled to close out their exhibition on June 3 with a game at Guelph against Hamilton.

Toronto’s regular season kicks off on June 16 when Montreal visits BMO Field.

As of Thursday, everything remains up in the air.

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The plan, according to Dinwiddie, was for the team to fly to Ottawa Friday morning.

“We plan on going and I expect to go,’’ he said. “All the guys are focused in, the young guys are pretty excited and even the vets who are coming are ready to get that rust off.”

It’s one thing to do well in practice, quite another when the lights come on in football.

Hopefully, the lights will be on at TD Place Stadium.

The goal is to win, a message Dinwiddie imparted to his group earlier in the week.

“At the same time, we have to evaluate,’’ he added.

As of now, the plan is to make cuts Saturday, an off day for the Argos.

Depending on the state of a new CBA, the off day may arrive as early as Friday.

Stay tuned.

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One kid Dinwiddie is eager to see in a live game is Chase Arseneau, a rookie out of Mac who has one year of eligibility remaining.

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The Argos were looking for a full back/tight end piece in the draft and selected Arseneau in the seventh round.

“We’ll see how he does tomorrow,’’ said Dinwiddie, who likes Arseneau’s football IQ and work ethic.

According to Dinwiddie, the team is helping Arseneau hone in on his footwork.

There are several Mac products Arseneau can lean on in camp, including veteran Declan Cross.

Cross is one of the best in the business when it comes to playing that combo full back/tight end position.

Arseneau was born in Whitby, attended Sinclair Secondary School and moved to Orange County, Calif., for Grade 12.

He played one year of community college football in SoCal before returning to Canada.

Playing at Mac, which operates one of the most prestigious programs in the nation, helped Arseneau when he arrived at Argos camp.

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“It will be the realization of my dreams,’’ said Arseneau when asked what it would mean to step on the field Friday night. “I couldn’t be more grateful for the position I’m in right now.”

Football is a brotherhood and Arseneau has enjoyed the spirit among his teammates and his positional group.

Cross has been a big supporter.

A Mac assistant provided Arseneau with a contact number for Cross.

The kid touched base with the veteran after Arseneau was drafted by the Argos.

When he first arrived at Mac, Arseneau peppered vets with questions and joked with Cross that he’d be doing the same at Argos camp.

“He (Cross) was open and willing to answer questions I’ve had,’’ added Arseneau.

Growing up in Whitby, Arseneau didn’t play much football until he went to Sinclair.

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He recalls the days of attending Argos home games when Damon Allen lined up under centre.

The one athlete Arseneau admired was Jarome Iginla.

When Iginla spearheaded Calgary’s run to an appearance in the Stanley Cup final in 2004, Arseneau was able to stay up late as a kid for the first.

“It was actually my first opportunity to watch and embrace a team,’’ he said. “The way they played and especially the leadership of Jarome Iginla, it made me fall in love with the Calgary Flames.

“They’ve been my team ever since. As a mixed-race child, seeing someone like him (Iginla) in his position, be sort of the face of a city for as long as he did, the way he carried himself, I feel he’s a very excellent role model to try to emulate as I grew up.”

One day kids will be looking up to Arseneau.

“That’s the goal,’’ said the 25-year-old. “I want to be a good leader for the next generation in any shape or form I can.”

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