Argos shuffle deck by shipping out Lemon and bringing in Coleman
On Davon Coleman’s first day as an Argo, one of the first to welcome the defensive tackle would be Alden Darby Jr., a defensive back who lined up with Coleman during their collegiate days at Arizona State.
“On Davon’s first day on campus I kind of took him in,” Darby Jr. said of their time with the Sun Devils.
“I was taking care of my mom and she loved him to death. He was getting home-cooked meals. We were together for 2 1/2 years in college.”
In the CFL, 2 1/2 years is an eternity with rosters changing so often. For now, though, Coleman and Darby Jr. are reunited.
As fate would have it, the Argos were able to bring Coleman into Toronto hours following their trade with B.C. because the Lions, who lost Saturday night in Hamilton, decided to stick around Southern Ontario before heading to Winnipeg to play the Blue Bombers later this week.
When he showed up for Monday’s practice at Lamport Stadium, Coleman was sporting a vintage No. 23 Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls jersey. In exchange for Coleman, an all-star last season, the Argos traded veteran rush end Shawn Lemon to the Leos, the second time in as many years Lemon has been shipped from Toronto to Vancouver.
Coleman leaves a one-win Lions team to join a one-win Argos team. B.C.’s only win came in Toronto, a game decided by a walk-off rouge.
Lemon didn’t fit this season after the Argos brought him back in free agency. When the team headed West for a three-game trip, Lemon stayed back in Toronto. He dressed for the team’s win over Winnipeg, but something was afoot and it was just a matter of time before some kind of deal would get done.
Coleman, who should be practising Tuesday, gives the Argos an inside presence who can push the pocket at a time when Cleyon Laing won’t be available for this Friday night’s visit by Edmonton — and perhaps longer.
Laing is a warrior who played through an undisclosed injury against the Blue Bombers. He has been arguably the Argos’ best player, by far the team’s most consistent and dominant player on defence. He’s also a Canadian.
With Jeff Finley cleared for practice, the Argos have enough depth at the Canadian defensive tackle position, but none is as good Laing, whose presence will be missed.
One of the areas requiring improvement involves the Argos’ front seven. Coleman should help, but he must be disciplined.
A native of Cleveland, Coleman began his CFL career with the Tiger-Cats before he was traded to the Lions. Before he came to Canada, Coleman was with the Dallas Cowboys for two seasons, beginning in 2014, before moving on to Chicago, Tampa and the New York Giants. He appeared in all eight of B.C.’s games this season.
Darby Jr. was excited to see his former collegiate teammate knowing the skill-set Coleman will bring to the Argos.
“He’ll have an impact,” said Darby Jr. “He’s athletic and I’m glad to have him.”
One can make the case that Coleman, in the absence of Laing, is Toronto’s best defensive lineman.
The Argos had to move on from Lemon, who is likely to do well under Rich Stubler in B.C. When he joined the Lions last season, Lemon and bookend rush end Odell Willis pressured the backfield.
Toronto was hoping to get the Shawn Lemon of 2017, but it wasn’t meant to be for a variety of reasons. Moving forward, the Argos need someone to step up and consistently pressure the backfield.
Chamblin doesn’t know Coleman personally. The first time they met was Monday.
“You look at his film and he’s done some good things,” said Chamblin. “He’s very quick. He can beat (his tackler) one on one on the inside. We can use him on the edge a little bit.”
Chamblin is hoping Coleman brings that explosive burst on the line. Before that, Chamblin knows how the Argos must get Coleman to lock in and focus. If he does, the trade to acquire Coleman will be worth it.
There’s no quicker way to the quarterback than the inside pass rush.