The Argos caught enough of a glimpse of Ryan Dinwiddie more than eight months ago to know he can be trouble.
"We have waited (a long time) to personally try to get back at Dinwiddie for stealing that one from us, so I can't wait to play against the kid," Argos nose tackle Adriano Belli said yesterday.
"I am excited about playing against this kid. I don't know how much he has been tested yet, but as a defensive line, we have something to prove. He's a great athlete so I want to see if we can put him in the dirt as many times as possible."
Dinwiddie and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers make their first appearance at the Rogers Centre tonight since the Grey Cup last fall, when they lost a close game to Kerry Joseph and the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The week before that, in the Eastern final, Dinwiddie replaced Kevin Glenn at quarterback for the Bombers and put the finishing touches on the Argos, completing all four of his passes for 80 yards.
The 27-year-old Dinwiddie, for the time being, has supplanted Glenn as the Bombers' starting quarterback. A week ago, Dinwiddie was magnificent against the Calgary Stampeders, leading Winnipeg to its first win with a 35-yard pass to Romby Bryant in the final minute.
Dinwiddie will have another threat at his disposal tonight when Milt Stegall makes his 2008 debut. Stegall, who needs 197 yards to pass Allen Pitts for the career receiving yardage record in the CFL, has recovered fully from a surgery on his left knee.
But Dinwiddie won't depend on Stegall as his main source of production. The Argos defence, which was criticized by head coach Rich Stubler after a loss in Saskatchewan last week, has been tripped up by the run, allowing a league-high average of 166 yards a game on the ground. Shockingly, Dinwiddie and the Blue Bombers are aware of this.
Could there be a perfect storm forming as Winnipeg's Charles Roberts, one of the top ball carriers in the league, looks to snap out of a funk?
"You see it on tape," Dinwiddie said. "They have had trouble with the run. We have to run the ball. We can't be stuck in second and long, especially with their secondary."
Said Bombers coach Doug Berry: "We're not saying we are going to be able to score a whole bunch more this week. We don't think about that at all."
The Argos again will be without receiver Bethel Johnson (ankle) and linebacker Kevin Eiben (knee). Both could be back for a game on Thursday in Hamilton against the Tiger-Cats.
As it is, there is little to indicate that tonight's game will wind up in the annals of great matches in the history of the CFL.
The Bombers have been a large disappointment at 1-4 while the Argos have stumbled to a 2-3 mark, with both clubs helping to weigh down a mediocre East Division. Toronto won in Winnipeg in Week 1, and plays a division rival in each of its next six games, with three coming before a bye week later in August.
"These next three weeks, we have to show up and crank them out one at a time," Belli said. "You don't want to speak too soon, but you win all three and go into (the bye) at 5-3. If not, we'll be coming back and seeing some new faces."