Fogg rolls into Toronto as veteran DB gets a fresh start
The only CFL home Kevin Fogg knew was Winnipeg, where he lined up in the Blue Bombers’ secondary and on the team’s return unit.
Signed by the Argonauts as a free agent in the off-season, Fogg, not surprisingly, has been forced to integrate with new teammates, a new coaching staff and a new defensive system.
Transitions such as the one Fogg is experiencing don’t happen overnight, but he is taking each practice and every rep as a way to improve.
“It’s been a big learning curve, actually,’’ said the 28-year-old Carolina native following Sunday’s practice.
Whether it’s the veterans familiar with Fogg’s game and name or Argos head coach Corey Chamblin, whom he views as a mentor, there have been no shortage of eyes and ears to lean on during camp.
“There was definitely an adjustment, but I feel I’m finally coming into my own,’’ he said. “Things are coming together.”
Fogg is a pretty dynamic player who can make the kind of explosive plays the 2018 Argos desperately lacked, one of the reasons why the team fell so hard in winning just four games.
“You’re learning, staying in the playbook,’’ added Fogg. “You go over the notes you’ve taken during camp or the notes the coaches have written.
“It’s about trying to process as much as I can and to take that next day as another day in taking that next step forward.
“There haven’t been any true leaps yet, but there have been some small steps for me. It has been amazing because I am learning a lot, learning how to play the game, learning how to be disciplined in how I play.”
As a free agent, Fogg had options, but decided on Toronto because of Chamblin’s presence.
“I knew he was a good coach, I knew he was a guy who was a great defensive mind,’’ continued Fogg. “I heard too many good things about him outside before I actually met him face to face. Just to see how much of it was true, and even more, is a blessing.
“It’s been really good and fun. Just thankful to be here.”
Fogg used last week’s pre-season opener against Montreal as a time to work out the kinks.
With one game under his belt, he’ll take a new approach into this Thursday night’s exhibition finale in Hamilton.
“It’ll be a lot cleaner, a lot more focused in terms of knowing what’s going on and being more tuned in. It’ll be great,’’ said Fogg.
“Getting ready for the season is so exciting and I can’t wait until it starts as we build towards our goal of being champs.”
ARGOS’ ‘DOPE’ OFFENCE A GOOD FIT FOR AUSTIN DUKE
For those sporting observers from a different era, the name Cedric (Cornbread) Maxwell is synonymous for putting the UNC Charlotte 49ers on the basketball map.
Maxwell led the Niners to a berth in the Final Four in 1977 before he moved on to the NBA where he was named NBA Finals MVP for the Boston Celtics in ’81.
For those unfamiliar with Austin Duke, the receiver/returner is himself synonymous with UNC Charlotte, having lined up as a freshman when the school — without a varsity football team since 1948 — resurrected its program in 2013.
Not as decorated as Maxwell, Duke is aiming to make a name for himself with the Argonauts.
Admittedly, Duke didn’t have that great a day at Sunday’s practice, but he’s in the mix for what has turned into a competitive training camp with Thursday’s pre-season finale in Hamilton drawing closer.
Duke made his CFL debut last Thursday in the Argos’ pre-season win over visiting Montreal, recording three catches, two for touchdowns.
When he left the college ranks, Duke, a Charlotte native, hooked up with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.
He got his first taste of three-down football and Toronto late last season when Argos GM Jim Popp convinced him to try the CFL.
“I love Toronto,” said Duke. “Coach Popp is from the Carolina area. I was able to talk to him and I got to spend 21/2 weeks up here to see if I would like it.
“The reality is (the CFL) is different, the motion, the waggle, but at the end of the day it’s still ball. It was a good experience for me coming to Canada. When the opportunity came up this year, I wanted to take it.”
Any time a player in a fierce battle for employment can produce two touchdowns is never a bad thing, even if it was a pre-season game.
“I didn’t have the best energy (Sunday), but overall this (offensive) system is dope,” said Duke. “It allows you to play fast and free and make plays. I enjoy it.”
The goal for Duke heading into his first live action was simple.
“I just wanted to come in and put it all together,” he said. “I wanted to go out there, play fast and not think. I was just trying to show what I’ve tried to show since I was in the NFL and that’s to show people that I can play ball without grasping too hard, thinking too much or making more of the situation.
“I just wanted to play the game. It was fun out there with my teammates. They really helped me learn the playbook, which allowed me to play fast. They embraced me and I appreciate that. But I have to keep working.”