In the next-man-up world that is pro football, one man’s misfortune provides an opportunity for someone else to step into the limelight, a plug-and-play environment where teams must move forward in the face of adversity.
In the case of the Argos, there have been a series of unfortunate injuries to hit several key veterans and players with little CFL experience who performed well.
On offence, Ricky Ray’s neck injury in Toronto’s home opener continues to be felt.
The good news with Ray is that he no longer requires a neck brace, but it’s anyone’s guess whether the future hall of famer will play again this season or ever again, period.
Now comes news that Cassius Vaughn, one of the defensive leaders who produced that game-changing scoop-and-score in last fall’s Grey Cup, will be lost for the balance of the season with an Achilles injury he suffered in last Friday night’s devastating loss to Montreal.
Vaughn would line up at SAM linebacker, halfback, drop into the safety slot, a high-character player with a very high football IQ, a leader on the field, a calming and respected voice inside the locker room.
He’ll be missed and his presence was absent Wednesday as the Argos gathered for their first practice at Lamport Stadium in preparation for Monday’s visit to Hamilton.
The first player to provide comfort and support in Montreal was Marcus Ball.
“Awesome guy, awesome teammates, someone you can’t replace in the meeting room and nor on the field, but we got a great locker room, some great guys who are ready to step up and make some plays,” said Ball.
“Honestly, that moment exemplified how this is more than football,” Ball continued of his gesture to console Vaughn, who was carted off the field at McGill’s Percival Molson Stadium. “He’s more than just my teammate. His family knows my family, my family knows his family. We’re brothers. We’re friends for life. It’s deeper than football. At that point in time, I didn’t care about the game, I didn’t care about the score or anything. I just wanted to make sure he was all right. And that’s why we had that moment. I wish the best for him.”
Ball and Vaughn first met last season when Ball returned to the Argos following his three-year run in the CFL.
Vaughn, who played in Hamilton, joined the Argos in free agency.
The two immediately formed a bond and a friendship.
Bear Woods joined the Argos on the eve of the regular season following his release from Montreal.
Woods, Ball and Vaughn would lead the Argos as the team would begin a season-long process capped off by their win over Calgary in the championship game.
“I didn’t personally know him and he didn’t personally know me,” began Woods when asked about his first impressions of Vaughn when the two met.
Woods would begin to know Vaughn as the season unfolded.
What struck Woods was how Vaughn served as a de facto coach on the field.
“As I got to know him, football was his passion,” said Woods. “He enjoys football, he enjoys his family, loves the Xs and Os. As I got to know Cassius Vaughn the man, he’s a family man, which I am. He’s a man of convictions and in his beliefs and so am I. He’s also a guy who is principled. He never lets anything simmer, he handles it on the spot.
“He doesn’t care if it’s a small issue on his mind, a large issue. He’s about handling it and that’s always a great approach. I strive to live that way also. It’s been a pleasure working him. We were talking (Tuesday) via text and it was hitting me as I was talking to him. And it really hit me that he’s gone for the year. As a guy who has been injured a lot (Woods made his season debut in Montreal) it really aches more.”
Whether it’s rookie Trumaine Washington or recent addition Will Likely, an inexperienced player will be asked to fill the void left by Vaughn.
“We can plug someone in to be able to execute as well,” added Woods. “Whether it’s me, Marcus or Cassius, the goal is not to replace the person, the goal is to replace that position and then let that person blossom. You’re not going to replace Cassius Vaughn the person. He is so unique. From the locker room to the field, you can’t replace that guy.”
Head coach Marc Trestman places a high premium on character and there’s no one whose character is beyond reproach than Vaughn.
“We’ve all seen the intelligent person that he is,” said Vaughn. “He’s a worldly guy. He’s not just about football. He’s adept at a lot of things going on. He’s a great conversationalist. I’ve enjoyed spending time with him away from football and having discussions on other topics.
“He’s a leader in our meeting room and he’s certainly been a leader on the field. We know what he’s done for our football team, lifting our team more or less for the past 18 months.”
COOMBS WILL SIT
Hard-luck Canadian slot Anthony Coombs has been dealt another blow.
Coombs came back for the first time this season against visiting B.C. and then got hurt during Toronto’s loss in Montreal last Friday.
Head coach Marc Trestman said Wednesday Coombs will huddle with doctors, but Trestman has ruled out his player for Monday’s game in the Hammer.
Depending on what the doctors say, Coombs’ period of inactivity could be longer.
Llevi Noel will fill in.
“Anthony is as bright a player as we have,” said Trestman. “We’ve seen what he’s done to spark our team.”
Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies