LIVESTREAM PPV: CFL – Toronto Argonauts @Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Friday, July 12, 7:30p (8:30p EDT, 2:30a July 13 CEDT)

WINNIPEG – Two of the league’s elite running backs will go head-to-head on Friday night in Winnipeg, when the Blue Bombers welcome the Toronto Argonauts to IG Field.

Andrew Harris is looking like he’s in contention for the CFL’s Most Outstanding Canadian Award once again through the first three games of the season. Two of those three contests have been 100-yard-plus performances for the Winnipeg native, although he has only scored a single touchdown so far.

Meanwhile, James Wilder Jr. is (rightfully) regarded as a dual threat, but this season that has been taken to the extreme. The 27-year-old has only four more rushing attempts (22) than targets through the air (18). He has also accumulated more receiving yards than rushing yards.

» Depth Charts: TOR | WPG

Only 22 rushing attempts through three games is not the workload one would expect for a premier rusher in the CFL, so the Argos establishing the ground game early against the Bombers could be a key to their success.

“Our confidence is on high right now,” Wilder Jr. told Argonauts.ca. “When we get back and watch film, we know that we’re defeating ourselves more than the teams are beating us. That’s what gets me excited and gives us confidence – just knowing that if we can control it, we’ll come out victorious.”

Much like their running backs, both teams have had very different starts to their 2019 campaigns. One similarity is that the Bombers and Argos have suffered injuries to key players.

The Bombers lost Matt Nichols for the latter part of their Week 4 win versus Ottawa. The capable Chris Strevelertook over, helping finish off the game with a pair of goal line plunges.

What made the win even more impressive is Winnipeg did it without their defensive leader, Adam Bighill. Bighill is on the active roster for Week 5, but his status is up in the air.

“Coach has been great with allowing me to have some say with how I feel,” Bighill told BlueBombers.com. “At the end of the day, I understand and feel comfortable if he says I’m not playing. I do understand that.”

As for the Boatmen, quarterback James Franklin is slated to miss his second consecutive game. McLeod Bethel-Thompson is penciled in to get the start under centre, with Dakota Prukop and Michael O’Connor backing up.

With Bethel-Thompson as the pivot, one will have to keep an eye on the usage of Derel Walker. A blockbuster off-season signing for the Argos, Walker has only been targeted 13 times through three games.

Walker was only thrown to three times in each of the last two contests – to put that in perspective, he was targeted at least six times in every game he played last year with Edmonton, prior to suffering an injury in Week 12.

“I’m just doing my job. Whatever my job is, I’m going to do it,” Walker said after his team’s loss to BC last week. “I don’t call the plays and I don’t put the game plan in. Whatever play is called, I’m going to run it to execution.”

It has been a great first handful of games for the Bombers, who have impressed in all three phases of the game, most notably on special teams last week. But Head Coach Mike O’Shea thinks his team can be even better.

“Every time we review the film the guys have a good understanding that they can do better and they’re not ones to rest on what they did the week before,” O’Shea said. “We’ve had some good success so far, but I don’t think we’re playing our best football by any means.”

The biggest difference between the two teams thus far in 2019 has been their ability to stop the run. Winnipeg has given up a mere nine first downs on the ground – seven fewer than any other team in the league and 21 fewer than Toronto. While the Bombers allow 42.7 rushing yards per game on average, the Argos give up 141.3.

Toronto made a change to their special teams this week by signing Canadian kicker Tyler Crapigna. The 26-year-old attended training camp with the Argos this season, but ultimately did not make the team. He spent four seasons with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, but did not suit up due to injury in 2018.

Crapigna owns a stellar 86.4 field goal percentage for his career. However, he curiously has only attempted one field goal at IG Field and has not kicked in a regular season game in 623 days (Oct. 27, 2017).

BY THE NUMBERS

11.8% – Percentage of Argonaut passes thrown to Derel Walker (13 of 110 total attempts).

9 – The number of consecutive quarters in which the Bombers defence has not allowed a touchdown drive.

99 – Career starts for Argos offensive lineman Ryan Bomben. Number 100 should come Friday.

5 – Number of times an 0-3 team has beaten a 3-0 team in CFL history. It has happened once since 1976 (0-3 Saskatchewan defeating 3-0 Montreal in 2011).

– With files from Argonauts.ca and BlueBombers.com.

AFI, Yare Media and the CFL

American Football International is collaborating with Yare Media and the Canadian Football League to present 2019 CFL games live. This is more than a livestream. This is a stream of the top flight TSN network television broadcast.

LIVE STREAM: CFL – Toronto Argonauts @Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Friday, July 12, 7:30p (8:30p EDT, 2:30a July 13 CEDT)

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