TORONTO - If Chris Bradwell doesn’t jump on Saturday, he could walk into a coveted spot on the Argonauts’ defensive line.
The 27-year-old Canadian Football League rookie is like any other player who comes north of the Canada-U.S. border to make a living on the gridiron. There are adjustments to be made, and through training camp, Bradwell has been taking some time to get used to the fact he is now a yard off the ball on every snap.
“I’m trying to eliminate that yard as fast as possible, and it’s definitely different,” the 6-foot-4, 285-pound Bradwell said. “I feel like I am athletic enough to play here, but it’s about adjusting to that one yard. I had a couple of offsides in the mock game (last Saturday) and coach let me know that is not going to be tolerated.”
Bradwell is battling for an inside job that became open when Adriano Belli retired and Eric Taylor was not re-signed. Claude Wroten was the apple of management’s eye at the free-agent camp in Florida in April, but passport issues have kept him in limbo. Another import, Nate Robinson, was released when he suffered a hamstring injury. Alex Buzbee can play the position, but he might be needed at the other tackle spot if Kevin Huntley gets hurt. Non-import rookies Alexander Robinson and Gregory Alexandre are in the mix, and Miguel Robede is trying to make a dent.
“There is no doubt Chris has a great opportunity, and he will get a chance to go out and show whether he is ready to be a player in this league or that he might need more seasoning,” Argos head coach and general manager Jim Barker said.
“He has to learn to stay onside. It’s about understanding that it’s more of a space game than it is in the U.S. How he adapts to that, how he gets off the blocks, pressuring the passer. It’s going to be a big day for him.”
Bradwell, his Argos teammates and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats won’t enjoy the sunny weather that is being forecast for Saturday afternoon. The roof at the Rogers Centre will be closed as preparations are made for an event next week, so the pre-season game will be contested indoors.
Bradwell is a small part of the bigger picture for Barker, who has to make approximately 15 cuts before the season opener.
“We have talked about being smart, but if they consistently do the wrong thing, after this long in camp, they will not be here,” Barker said. “Everyone who is here has a legitimate chance to make our team.”
And in his own mind, Bradwell can be one of those guys, as long as he does not get too anxious.
“The door is open,” Bradwell said. “I feel like I can play anywhere. That’s not being cocky. I’m just confident in myself.”