Wilder’s status with Argos uncertain as painful season continues

Loss to Eskimos leaves Boatmen at bottom East Division standings

James Wilder Jr., seen here in a game against Ottawa, did not dress on Friday night against Edmonton while rumours swirled about his status. Johany Jutras Argonauts.ca

The Toronto Argonauts difficult season continued Friday night, and it wasn’t just on the field.

James Wilder Jr., the Argos’ (1-7) starting running back to begin his third CFL season, was listed as a healthy scratch prior to the game.

Wilder was named the most outstanding rookie in 2017 after a breakout campaign to help the Double Blue win the Grey Cup and was supposed to return this week after missing the last two contests.

A lot of speculation surrounded the announcement and Coach Corey Chamblin addressed the situation following the Argos’ 41-26 loss to the Edmonton Eskimos at BMO Field.

“There was a little bit of confusion on what exactly needed to be done,” said Chamblin, in his post-game press conference. “There was confusion on how we wanted it to be done as well.

“We’ll clean that up beginning this week — revaluate it and exactly what his job will be moving forward.”

Brandon Burks got the start again in the backfield and combined with Chris Rainey for 13 carries and 101 yards.

Toronto has been ranked last in the league in rushing all season, but despite tonight’s breakout success, Rainey is uncertain about when his number will get called again.

“I have no clue if I’m going to get touches or not,” said Rainey, who in eight games has just 16 carries for 68 yards. “That’s the hard part about football. I just got to make sure I do my job and be ready when the time comes.”

Although the rushing totals appeared to be noteworthy, Toronto was unable to win back-to-back games after a thrilling 28-27 win against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the 31-year-old Rainey believes Burks and himself could’ve added to their output.

“We should’ve done way more,” said the Lakeland, Florida native. “We did what we’re supposed to and we ran away from that—started panicking after being down.

“I’m just here to do my job that’s all.”

The Boatmen’s new rushing combination was unable to reach the end zone through the ground, but Burks was able to capitalize on a 27-yard touchdown catch.

Only the second of his CFL career.

“That touchdown meant a lot,” said the 25-year-old. “I hadn’t gotten one in a long time and after dealing with a few injuries it feels good to help and contribute.”

Argos’ quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson also assessed the new look of his team’s backfield.

“That was fantastic to see those [running backs] out there making plays,” said Bethel-Thompson, who threw for 200 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. “That was a lot of fun to see them move in different ways.

With the recent play of his backfield, Chamblin is looking to arrange a meeting with Wilder and erased any suspicion of an immediate move.

“We have to sit down with James and talk about it tomorrow,” said Chamblin. “I know there have been trade rumours. That hasn’t been discussed and there haven’t even been any thoughts on that.”

The coach knows the consequences of being desperate this late into a season.

“When you’re 1-7 then some guys start looking for more of an opportunity and for things to go right. It doesn’t go right like that all the time.”

Toronto will head out east Aug. 25 with uncertainty behind their quarterback for the CFL’s Touchdown Atlantic game in Moncton, New Brunswick, facing the (3-4) Montreal Alouettes.

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Posted: Aug 17 2019 7:33 am
Filed under: CFL Football Sports