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The Toronto Argonauts haven’t had a full day of practice since Wednesday night’s win over Ottawa and have several players beaten up as they head to their Thanksgiving showdown in Hamilton against the Tiger-Cats.

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But given the stakes on Monday (4pm, TSN) at the Hammer, there are plenty of reasons for Argos to call up their best against a Ticats team that is missing a few key pieces.

After Monday’s game, the Argos won’t play again until October 22, when they travel to Montreal to face the Alouettes, who will host the Redblacks in the first game of a Thanksgiving double header.

At the end of the night, the East Division could look very different, perhaps even crowded based on the results.

Starting the day, the Argos sit atop the East with a 5-3 record, having won two games in a row. They are 4-0 at home, even though they can’t attract an audience at BMO Field. His only road win came in the first game of the season in Calgary.

The Argos and Ticats 4-4 have split their previous two games and the series finale will be played at BMO Field on November 12.

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If the Argos can somehow find a way to play clean, disciplined football against the Tabbies in Monday’s proverbial four-point game, they can part ways with the Ticats in qualifying.

If they let the short week and tired legs drag them down, the Argos will find themselves tied with the rested Ticats, knowing that Hamilton has the tiebreaker.

“We have to leave him on the field,” said Argos head coach Ryan Dinwiddie. “The boys are physically beaten. They are tired, but we have to make sure that mentally we are not tired.

“We cannot allow the way our bodies feel to take over our minds. We have to be mentally strong knowing that we have a job to do. We know it will not be easy. They (Ticats) have had more time to prepare (Hamilton last played Oct. 2, a 23-20 overtime loss to the Als at home), more free time and their bodies will be fresher.

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“We have a long week after that and we will have some free time. We have to understand what is going to happen on Monday, those guys will be ready for us. Hamilton is at his best when he has his back against the wall.

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“That team has shown that for the last five years they have handled adversity every year and have been the best team in the East for a reason. In order for us to come in and beat them, we will have to do our best. “

The stakes are high for the Ticats, who are in second place. They didn’t look good as they gave the Als a late lead, giving up plays down the stretch of regulation and then delivering the ball in overtime that led to Montreal’s game-winning field goal.

McLeod Bethel-Thompson will make his third consecutive start at quarterback for the Argos, while Nick Arbuckle returns to the game-day roster as a backup. In their Labor Day loss to the Ticats, MBT relieved Arbuckle in the fourth quarter when the game was no longer in doubt.

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Meanwhile, running back AJ Ouellette will make his season debut for the Argos, who were pretty skinny in the backfield against Ottawa with John White IV suffering from a hamstring problem, forcing DJ Foster to get all the touches as a runner.

Argos’ offense was much better on the two-back system and Ouellette is a downhill runner who is physical. It will spell Foster when the Argos are in a one-runner set.

Toronto’s offensive line will again be key and he must somehow control Hamilton’s four forwards or this could be a long day for Argos’ offense.

On defense, there will be some fresh legs along the line of scrimmage with the return of Kony Ealy and Eli Howard and the Double Blue debut of Mac’s product, Fabion Foote.

Once again, veteran Charleston Hughes ranks third in the depth chart and probably won’t play for the second game in a row.

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With veteran long snapper and veteran Argo Jake Reinhart with an elbow injury, Toronto will have Maxime Latour in charge. The Argos removed the 28-year-old from Ottawa’s practice roster.

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HOUSE OF HORRORS

Tim Hortons Field has not been kind to Argos, a team that helped usher in the new venue in 2014, when the stadium was not completely finished.

Back then, it was QB Zach Collaros playing his former team for the first time when the Ticats held Argos 13-12 at bay before a lively crowd of 18,135 on Labor Day.

The Argos have played 10 more times in Hamilton, including one postseason game, and have lost nine games. The Boatmen’s only victory came in overtime during their 2017 Gray Cup championship run when Ricky Ray and DeVier Posey fired up the Ticats.

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During this year’s 50th Labor Day Classic, Dane Evans passed for two touchdowns, Frankie Williams returned a punt for a major, while Simoni Lawrence produced pick-six in a 32-19 victory as the stadium welcomed to his first game in 659 days. .

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Evans and Williams, however, along with star catcher Brandon Banks, are set for Monday’s showdown, which will feature Tim Hortons Field operating at full capacity.

Jeremiah Masoli will start as QB for the Tabbies, seeking his first win of the season.

“I think he’s getting more and more confident,” said Ticats head coach Orlondo Steinauer of Masoli, who is slowly returning to his previous form after knee surgery. “I am very impressed with quite a few releases that I would say how Jeremiah likes it. I think the most important thing is your readings and those things that arrive in a timely manner. I see an improvement over last week. “

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Former Argos right tackle Chris Van Zeyl will make his season debut with the Ticats. He will line up to the right of Toronto native and rookie Coulter Woodmansey, a product of the Junior Argos program.

Van Zeyl is familiar with Chris Jones. having practiced against the current Argos defensive player when the two were on the same side in Toronto.

“The only thing you have to hope for is the unexpected,” Van Zeyl said of Jones, entering his third game as Argos’ defensive coordinator. “You have so many moving parts and so many guys moving around that you have to stick to your rules and that will get you through.

“I have played against him several times and each time it has been something different.”

In Argos’ last two victories over Montreal and Ottawa, the Jones-led defense gave up nearly 1,000 combined yards, but also forced seven turnovers in total.

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