(Photo credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports)
The Toronto Argonauts plan to start backup quarterback Cameron Dukes on Friday night when they visit the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for a rematch of the 2022 Grey Cup finals.
The Argonauts (12-1), who defeated the Blue Bombers 24-23 to win the Grey Cup last year, will rest starting quarterback Chad Kelly, who missed some time last month with an ankle injury. Toronto has clinched first place in the East Division to earn a bye in the first round of the playoffs.
The Blue Bombers (10-4), tied for first in the West Division with the BC Lions, were deprived of a third straight Grey Cup title with their loss to Toronto. This will be the first meeting between the teams since the championship game.
Argonauts coach Ryan Dinwiddie said after the 29-14 home win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last Saturday that he would not play a full team against Winnipeg.
"I think the media is going to make a big deal about it, the whole Grey Cup rematch and all of that stuff," he said. "I'm going to sit some of our guys who are beat up. Some of our stars aren't going to be playing next week.
"We're not going to jeopardize some of our star players that are beat up. ... I'm not putting anyone in jeopardy to make the media happy as far as who we're going to play."
Blue Bombers coach Mike O'Shea does not feel that Toronto's lineup plans will affect his team's approach to the game.
"It shouldn't," O'Shea said. "They've earned the right to make whatever decision they want. ... Our job, no matter what happens, no matter what their roster looks like, is to go out and execute."
Dukes replaced an injured Kelly midway through a 20-7 road loss to Calgary Stampeders on Aug. 4. He went 8-for-15 passing for 63 yards and an interception.
"They're not watered down with Kelly out, they're still a good team," Blue Bombers defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat said. "So, no matter who's at quarterback, they're going to come to play. It's on us to execute and play a good game."
Among the other Argonauts who will not play on Friday are linebacker Wynton McManis (ankle), defensive back Jamal Peters (groin) and wide receiver Cam Phillips (groin).
Blue Bombers defensive back Desmond Lawrence (knee) has been ruled out.
--Field Level Media