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Toronto Argonauts WR Derel Walker: James Franklin looks 'back to his old self'

Toronto Argonauts quarterback James Franklin didn’t have the season many expected last year after the Argonauts acquired his rights in an off-season trade with the Edmonton Eskimos.

The most sought-after quarterback on the market a year ago struggled to gain hold of the starter’s role in Toronto after Ricky Ray was injured, splitting time with McLeod Bethel-Thompson and finishing the year with 2,034 passing yards, eight touchdowns, and nine interceptions in 12 games.

Franklin never clicked with former Argos head coach Marc Trestman, but under new, ‘relatable’ head coach Corey Chamblin, the 27-year-old seems refreshed and re-energized heading into the season.

New Argos receiver Derel Walker, who was teammates with Franklin in Edmonton from 2015-17, told TSN 1050 in Toronto the Franklin he knew in Edmonton looks like he’s back this season.

“I know last year was a tough situation for him, coming into a new team and coming into a different environment and not being able to adjust like you’d like,” Walker told TSN 1050’s Matt Cauz. “I could see that being very difficult for him at the time, because Franklin is a standup guy and always happy. Me just seeing his demeanour (last year), just seeing him out here, it was just different. But me being around him (this year), I’m seeing him being happy and back to his old self so it’s a lot to look forward to.”

After starting the season with a bye week, the Argos open their season at home against the rival Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Walker said Franklin is ready to lead the Double Blue this year.

“What you see is what you get from Franklin. He’s a standup guy, one of the greatest people I know on the face of the earth. With that being said, I know he’s a competitor and he’s going to be well prepared and he’s going to make sure he’s able to do his job.”

Walker also touched on playing with veteran receiver S.J. Green with the Argos this season. After starting his career alongside Adarius Bowman in Edmonton, Walker is now teammates with another potential Hall of Famer in Green, and said he’s learned from the 34-year-old.

“Just watching his game and seeing the way he does things, it kind of rubs off on you. This is his 13th year so of course you’re going to pick his brain every once in a while just to see what has helped him get this far. We chop it up and talk about a lot of things deeper than football; things about life as well. I’m learning every day I’m around him.”

Walker and Green are part of an Argos’ skill position group that also features Armanti Edwards and James Wilder and hopes to be much more explosive than last year’s offence.

“Most definitely,” Walker said. “It’s going to be a very high-powered offence. I’m just ready to get the show started.”