Former NFL receiver Martavis Bryant remains a no-show at Toronto Argonauts camp

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GUELPH, Ont. — Former NFL receiver Martavis Bryant remains a no-show at the Toronto Argonauts training camp.

The Argos placed Bryant on the suspended list Saturday, the same day they opened camp at the University of Guelph. Head coach Ryan Dinwiddie said at the time the move was made because Bryant was dealing with passport issues.

On Thursday, Dinwiddie told reporters he's starting to get a little impatient waiting on Bryant.

"We've had some contact with him," Dinwiddie said. "We need to get him up here now if he's going to be up here and make an impact on our team.

"The ball is in his court, he's got to get his passport and get those things squared away. We'll see how that's going to play out."

Bryant, 29, signed with Toronto on Jan. 25. The six-foot-four, 210-pound receiver spent five seasons in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers (2014-17) and Oakland Raiders (2018), registering 145 catches for 2,183 yards and 17 TDs in 44 career games.

The former Clemson star was also banned multiple times by the NFL for violating its substance abuse policy.

One of the more intriguing battles during the first week of the Argos' training camp has been at quarterback, with newcomers Nick Arbuckle and Antonio Pipkin and veteran McLeod Bethel-Thompson. All three have started games in the CFL, with Arbuckle and Pipkin doing so with Calgary and Montreal, respectively, while Bethel-Thompson was under centre for 13 games with the Argos in 2019.

The Argos also have rookie quarterbacks Kenji Bahar and Nick Tiano in camp.

The consensus is that Arbuckle is the top contender for the starting job, given his familiarity with Dinwiddie's offence. Before being hired by Toronto, Dinwiddie served as Calgary's quarterback coach (2016-19) and Arbuckle spent his first two CFL seasons with the Stampeders (2018-19).

What's more, former Calgary receivers Eric Rogers, DaVaris Daniels and Juwan Brescacin are all currently with the Argos. However, Dinwiddie said Bethel-Thompson spent time learning the offence in 2020 and has hit the ground running this year.

And Dinwiddie hasn't yet given either player the starter's designation just yet.

"I've got two starting quarterbacks on the roster," he said. "We'll let those guys compete and we'll see how it's going to play out."

Dinwiddie also praised Pipkin, who opened the '19 season as Montreal's starter before being injured. Vernon Adams Jr. stepped in and guided the Alouettes to a 10-8 record and second spot in the East Division standings.

Montreal released Pipkin on Jan. 30, 2020. He signed with Edmonton the following month but never played for the franchise as the 2020 CFL campaign was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pipkin signed with Toronto on Feb. 9, 2021.

"Pip is doing everything we're asking him to do," Dinwiddie said. "He's improving, he's getting a system that's foreign to him ... but he's been handling it

"He has a big arm. We're working through some mechanics stuff with him that we want to change but he's dialed in and he's doing a good job."

With CFL players resuming their careers following a lengthy absence from the field, injuries are a major concern for every team. Dinwiddie said the Argos are dealing with their share of nicks and bruises through the first week of camp.

"I plan on not practising (Friday) because I could see the guys were getting tired," he said. "We're hurting on the offensive line a little bit ... nothing serious right now, we don't have any guys out long-term, just nagging injuries.

"I've got to do a good job of making sure we handle those things appropriately. I don't want to put those guys at risk and lose them long-term."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 15, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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