At this stage in his career, opening night is just another night for S.J. Green, the first of many games, the first step in a process where the goal is to win a championship.
Receivers come and go in the pass-happy CFL almost as quickly as possessions change during the course of any kickoff, but Green has endured, persevered through a devastating knee injury to reclaim his status as an elite player, the ultimate weapon for Ricky Ray on virtually every down.
As the Argos embark on their 2018 season, so much will depend on how well Ray is protected, how much of a presence running back James Wilder Jr. emerges for an entirety of a season and how defences cover Green, at least on the offensive side.
He’ll get double-teamed, occasionally given man coverage on blitz schemes or get bracketed, but any ball thrown in Green’s radius is always catchable because he’s that good, tough, highly intellectual and fiercely competitive.
“I approach every game as if it’s the last game I ever play,” said Green, who signed a new deal with the Argos this past off-season. “It lets you know how every game is important.”
It has been a decade since a team repeated as Grey Cup champions, a feat accomplished by Green when he lined up for Montreal.
The Als had Marc Trestman as head coach, Jim Popp as GM and Anthony Calvillo as their starting quarterback, who begins his first season as Toronto’s quarterbacks coach.
Complacency begins to infiltrate a locker room when a title is won, but these Argos seem to have that necessary hunger.
There hasn’t been that much turnover in personnel, a few changes to Trestman’s staff and a few tweaks on defence that have brought in veterans in key positions, especially in the back end with the additions of T.J. Heath and Ronnie Yell.
“I think we’re locked into the process,” said Green.
Someone new to the process is Brian Tyms, who was first introduced to the Argos’ way last season following his release by Hamilton.
Tyms has won the wideout position left vacant when DeVier Posey, the Grey Cup MVP, who signed with the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens.
Tyms and Green are brothers-in-law who will line up next to each other.
“It’s a blessing to be on the same professional team with a family member,” said Green. “Guys go through their professional careers playing with guys and making friends along the way, but it’s not often you get to play with a family member.
“It’s a good opportunity for the both of us and he’s adopted well, he came out here and won a starting job and he’s out here making plays. We’re looking forward to see how it translates on the field (when the lights come on).”
Their relationship allows for an even more open dialogue.
“Whether it’s about the game, the offence, we also talk about life outside the game and how much life outside the game affects inside the game,” said Green. “He’s catching on and he’s doing well. I think it’s going to be a break-out year for him and I’m looking forward to watching him flourish.”
Tyms certainly has that chance as does Green of putting together another all-star season.
Ray has seen Tyms grow.
“He’s definitely done a really good job,” said Ray. “He’s learning all the ins and outs of this offence. It’s very detailed as far as splits and the way we run routes, everything coach Trestman wants us to do.
“(Tyms) has been doing a great job of taking the coaching and getting a little bit better every day. What I think he brings is physically he’s a big guy and he has that catch radius we talk about where one on one you feel you can get it in his area and he’s going to do something with the catch.
“And I’ve really been surprised at his route running because for a big guy his route is running is pretty good. He gets in and out of his breaks, his body language is really friendly, there’s no confusion in what he’s doing. I feel really comfortable with where he’s going to be.”
CAMPBELL CONTINUES EVOLUTION
Hard to believe a talent such as Jamal Campbell didn’t pick up football until it was introduced to him by the Argos’ community initiative aimed at providing equipment for local high schools.
It says a lot about his evolution that Campbell will dress in Toronto’s season opener Friday night and line up when the Argos go with an extra offensive lineman.
“He continues to improve and that’s important to him,” said head coach Marc Trestman. “He’s got a lot of talent and we believe he’s going to grow.”
Lest anyone forget, Campbell basically started from scratch and he’s now beginning to scratch the surface.
Mentally, he has grown by leaps and bounds.
There’s no doubt Campbell has high-end athleticism, but he’s raw and if he ever develops a mean streak, there’s no telling where football will take him.
“I’m just mentally focused on everything,” said Campbell, who is entering his third season. “When I’m not in I’m taking mental reps and just making sure I understand what we need to do week to week, day to day”
This year’s camp has been Campbell’s best.
“My focus was understanding and conceptualizing the whole play book, so when I get on the field everything slows down,” he said. “Before we even run the play I know what’s going to happen, where we’re all going. It allows me to play faster.”
Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies