LIVESTREAM PPV: CFL – Edmonton Eskimos @Toronto Argonauts, July 7, 5:30p (11:30 CEST)

All eyes will be on quarterback James Franklin in his first start as a Toronto Argonaut when the Double Blue take on the Edmonton Eskimos in game one of Saturday night’s double header.

It is fitting that Franklin will be against his former team and mentor Mike Reilly.

The script could not be written more perfectly.

The Argos are coming off of a much needed bye week after a lopsided 41-7 loss at the hands of the Calgary Stampeders in Week 2. Toronto was dominated by the Stamps in all three phases of the game and never found their footing after getting down early.

“Our performance as a team was unacceptable,” head coach Marc Trestman told Argonauts.com. “That starts with me. Our team didn’t appear ready to play and I hold myself accountable for that. Our coaches went to work during the off week and we evaluated everything. We took everything apart and we’re going to try to put it back together piece by piece.”

Perhaps more devastating than the 34-point defeat was the loss of franchise quarterback Ricky Ray. The 38-year-old suffered a neck injury and will be sidelined for the foreseeable future.

Enter Franklin.

The 26-year-old has been handed the reigns to the Argos offence, and for the first time in his career, has a chance to cement himself as a CFL starter.

Franklin spent three season as a backup with the Esks and won a Grey Cup with the team in 2015. He was traded to Toronto last December.

“I’m pretty excited,” said Franklin. “I know some people will say that it’s an advantage because I was with them for three years and know how the defensive coordinator is, but at the same time, you never know. It could be totally different.

“I am excited to see the guys and play against them. I know a lot of them are going to give me a hard time… but I’m pretty excited for it.”

Franklin’s teammates are giving him their full support.

“Obviously we have to overcome not having Rick [Ray],” said veteran offensive lineman Chris Van Zeyl. “I think James is in a great position to put us in a good situation moving forward. We have to get off to a good start. Keep Mike Reilly off the field, and that’s the plan.”

Of course, that is easier said that done when you are up against one of the top teams in the West and former MOP.

The Esks appeared to be in fine form in a 41-22 victory over the BC Lions in Week 3. Edmonton found themselves down early, allowing BC to score half of their points in the first quarter. However, the Green and Gold eventually found their stride and went on to run away with the game.

“Finally once we got some momentum going, all three phases started to click, and click together,” head coach Jason Maas told Esks.com. “And once we do that you can see the results.”

Reilly completed 22 of 30 attempts for 326 yards with three touchdown passes, one rushing major and two interceptions. His favourite target of the night was D’haquille Williams, who totaled a game high 129 yards and one touchdown on six catches.

But the most notable performance of the night belonged to CJ Gable. The running back racked up 165 yards on the ground and one touchdown on 23 carries. The impressive display earned him CFL top performer of the week honours.

“I know some games it’s not going to happen like that,” said Gable. “But I just know I have to make sure to stay on my course and read my o-line right and just be patient back there. Whatever happens happens.”

The Esks know that they have a tough task ahead of them in taking on the reigning Grey Cup champs. The team says they are looking forward to the challenge, and are not letting the Argos’ winless start effect their approach to the game.

“We have a ton of respect for any team that is the defending champs,” said Reilly. “They are the champs for a reason. They played great football when it matters most. They still have a ton of those same pieces there. I don’t really look at the record or what’s going on in the first couple of weeks…. They’re a very good football team. They’re well coached.”

Crunchin’ Numbers:

4 – Career start for James Franklin on Saturday. He is 2-1 in his previous three starts.

57 – Previous games that Toronto has played without Ricky Ray since he joined the club in 2012. Without him the Argos have gone 25-32 (.439). With him they are 33-38 (.465).

308 – League leading receiving yards for Duke Williams heading into Week 4.

The Argos are 0-2 to start the season for the first time in 16 years.

The good news? Toronto was 2-0 coming off their bye weeks last season. Some rest and relaxation has a history of helping the Argos.

More good news? The Esks haven’t had a lot of success in Toronto in recent memory. The Double Blue have won four of the last five games at home against Edmonton dating back to 2013.

Will the Boatmen pick up their first win of the year, or will the Esks finally find success in The Six?

– With files from Argonauts.com/Esks.com

AFI, Yare Media and the CFL

American Football International is collaborating with Yare Media and the Canadian Football League to present 2018 CFL games live. This is more than a livestream. This is a stream of the top flight TSN network television broadcast.

LIVE STREAM: CFL – Edmonton Eskimos @Toronto Argonauts, July 7, 5:30p (11:30 CEST)

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