Muamba back in football's trenches as Argos head to Montreal for pivotal meeting

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With so much at stake, so much that needs to be executed on either side of the ball and with so thin a margin for error, this is precisely where Henoc Muamba wants to be.


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The high-character middle linebacker is back in the lineup after Muamba hurt his hamstring in an Argos loss to the host Saskatchewan Roughriders on Sept. 17.

As Muamba recalled during a Zoom call, he was pulled by a Riders offensive lineman.

No flag was thrown, but Muamba was thrown for a loop when he knew something was amiss immediately with his hamstring.

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His return couldn’t have arrived at a more opportune moment for the Argos, who can pretty much wrap up first in the East with a win over the Als.

On paper, this game is too close to call, which is why the odds-makers, who are seldom wrong, have it as a coin toss.

Both teams enter the evening having won three in a row.

For Montreal, two of those wins came against Ottawa.

Both the Argos and Als had statement wins in Hamilton by coming back to upset the Ticats on their home turf.

The Als needed overtime, while the Argos kicked a game-winning field goal with no time left on the clock.

Muamba relishes these moments and fully understands Friday night’s significance.

Twice he’s played for the Als, including a stellar second go-round in 2018 when Muamba was named Montreal’s MOP, top defensive player and top Canadian.

He had 108 tackles and five sacks, both career highs, with the Als.

Being prepared and maintaining focus have allowed Muamba to flourish in three-down football, traits he sees with the Argos.

As big as Thanksgiving Day’s trip to Hamilton was for the Argos, Friday’s visit to Montreal is just as big, even bigger because it is, after all, Toronto’s next game.


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The Argos exercised caution during Muamba’s injury absence.

He paid tribute to the team’s therapy staff and strength and conditioning in helping Muamba through the recovery process

Muamba is very philosophical, trying to instill into his teammates the importance of being in the moment.

He said the Argos had one of their best practice weeks of the season.

“What I’ve been sharing with the guys is to not get lost in the moment, not to be a prisoner of the moment,’’ said Muamba. “You can’t get caught up with being first in the East and relaxing. It’ll be a mistake. You’re not defined by one game.”

Friday’s game is big and the Argos can create separation in the East with a win.

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They can lock up the season series with Montreal and have already beaten the Ticats twice with the fourth and final meeting against Hamilton scheduled in Toronto on Nov. 12.

The Argos will be on the road against Ottawa on Nov. 6 and will have home games against B.C. and Edmonton, Oct. 30 and Nov. 16, respectively.

Muamba believes the Argos, who have dealt with an inordinate amount of injuries, are coming together.

“The amazing thing is we’re still in the process of becoming one,’’ said Muamba. “We still haven’t seen our best. We’re on our way to really peaking.”

The Argos are 3-0 since Chris Jones came on board as a defensive consultant.

Muamba played for Jones in Regina before Muamba headed back to Montreal.

“I know exactly how he thinks,’’ said Muamba of Jones, who broke into the CFL with Montreal as an assistant. “It’s exciting to know we’re on the same page.”


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During his injury absence, Muamba and Jones often huddled together.

Another player Jones coached is Cameron Judge, who hurt his ankle in Judge’s return to Regina.

Judge is close to returning, which will allow the Argos to start two Canadian linebackers.

The Argos have used Canadian rookie Trevor Hoyte in the middle to fill the void left by Muamba.

Friday night, the Argos have tweaked their roster by deciding to start American Trevon Tate at right tackle for an injured Jamal Campbell (quad).

The ratio change means the Argos will start two Canadians along the defensive line, rush end Robbie Smith and former Als tackle Fabion Foote.

Interestingly, the Argos have former Als quarterback Antonio Pipkin listed as the backup on the depth chart.

Pipkin made his Argos debut against Montreal.

Not surprisingly, Nick Arbuckle is listed as the third-stringer.

As long as McLeod Bethel-Thompson continues to win, there’s no point in making a change at the position.

Veteran tailback John White IV is back, allowing the Argos to rotate White and D.J. Foster or even have both in the backfield together.

Charleston Hughes is back on the roster.

A total of 18 players appear on the Argos’ injured list, including 11 on the six-game list.

Veteran receiver Eric Rogers moves to the six-game injured list as does Campbell.

Toronto has made seven roster changes from the lineup that suited up in the Hammer.

Defensively, the one of the most notable is the addition of defensive back Jalen Collins.


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Collins played in the NFL for the Atlanta Falcons and suited up in the Super Bowl when New England mounted its historical comeback to win in overtime.

He’s never played in the CFL.

Justin Tuggle, who has played in the CFL and who won a Grey Cup with the Argos, will begin his second stint in Double Blue.

He’ll be backing up at rush end.


Ryan Dinwiddie admits he pays close attention to the standings.

“I told them (players) the importance of the game, but they’re all important at this stage of the season,’’ said Dinwiddie. “The focus is on the game at hand.”

Dinwiddie got his coaching shot in Montreal in 2013 when he served as a quality control coach.

At the time, Dinwiddie said he had other opportunities.

Dinwiddie is impressed at this year’s Als group.

“They have a lot of talented players,’’ he said.

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