Royce Metchie is back in a familiar environment amid familiar faces hoping to become one of the new faces of Argos football.
Metchie’s family lived in Nigeria, Ghana and Taiwan before moving to Canada where they established roots in Brampton.
Football runs deep in the household, a sibling sporting connection that features John Metchie III, Miles, Leon and, of course, Royce.
A new beginning for Metchie will feature a new look as the safety will don jersey No. 9 as an Argo.
Metchie and his mom’s birth month is September.
To tell hear Metchie tell it, the No. 9 is also his parents’ favourite number.
It was a no-brainer for Metchie, who wore No. 16 during his three-year in Calgary.
Veteran receiver Brandon Banks will wear jersey No. 16 as an Argo.
Deciding to go with No. 9 was Metchie’s idea, a selection mom and dad fully endorsed and approved.
“They both liked it,’’ said Metchie.
When he played in Calgary, every visit to Toronto and Hamilton would feature many of his family and friends in attendance.
Being home full-time will only add to the Metchie crowd support.
He joked during a Zoom call Monday that he could probably fill up a section at BMO Field to accommodate the demand for tickets.
His tenure in Toronto officially begins Thursday night when the Argos play host to the Montreal Alouettes.
Whether it’s starting a season anew with a new team, being home and the thought of having so many supporters in the stands, there’s an air of excitement and anticipation surrounding Metchie’s debut.
“If I can get one of those little sections (at BMO), I could probably fill it,’’ said Metchie of this week’s homecoming as an Argo. “Maybe an entire regular section.”
BMO Field is the only grass surface in the CFL.
“I love it,’’ he added. “Being on grass is a little better on the joints. That’s another reason why I’m excited to play here because I do believe playing on grass will add a few more years to my career.”
Metchie is entering the fourth year of his career, the beginning of his peak.
He’s a very good football player who will line up at safety overlooking an Argos defence that has the potential to be very good as well.
In all three levels, there are experienced and explosive playmakers.
Metchie played with a handful of players in Calgary and got to know defensive backs coach Joshua Bell and first-year defensive coordinator Corey Mace.
GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS
Conspicuous by their absence at practice were OT Isiah Cage and SB Eric Rogers.
Rogers appeared in only six games for the Argos last season, his first in Toronto.
He never took a snap in the two pre-season games staged this year.
Cage missed the entire 2021 season after he hurt an ankle at training camp on the final play of a practice day that required surgery and considerable rehab time.
Cage did suit up for the Argos’ exhibition finale against Hamilton.
Dinwiddie acknowledged Cage got “dinged’’ in that game, Cage’s first in three years.
The head coach was much more optimistic about Cage suiting up Thursday.
He wasn’t so sure about Rogers
“Right now I think Eric is a week or two away, but we’ll see how this will play out,’’ said Dinwiddie.
Banks doesn’t look out of place in his new surroundings as an Argo.
He displayed a burst Monday on a corner route tossed by incumbent QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson.
“He’s been great,’’ said Dinwiddie of Banks. “He’s been a great addition, a great fit in the locker room, in the meeting room, doing the things we’re asking of him on the football field.
“I’ve been really impressed with Speedy and I’m looking forward to building more roles as far as what he’ll do for our offence.”
Once the bullets start flying for real will be the time for onlookers to assess Banks and whether he can still take the top off defences.
The Argos don’t plan on using Banks in the return game, but they have discussed the possibility of Banks lining up in certain scenarios when required.
Dinwiddie was well aware of the perceptions surrounding Banks.
“I’ll tell you what, he’s a stand-up man,’’ said the head coach.
It will be worth watching how many times Banks gets targeted, how many plays he’s actually involved in and where he lines up on the field.
By the looks of things, Markeith Ambles will begin the season as one of the Argos’ starting receivers.
Ambles won a Grey Cup with a handful of current teammates when he played in Calgary.
In 2021, Ambles hauled in 54 passes for 686 yards and three TDs in what turned out to be his best season.
The Georgia native spent training camp with the Argos in 2016 when Jim Barker, the team’s senior advisor, served as GM.
Competition has been high among the receivers, a group that will begin the new season with at least three on the injured list in Rogers and fellow Canadians Juwan Brescacin and Dejon Brissett.
When he goes up against Toronto’s first-team defence, Ambles looks across the line of scrimmage and sees plenty of familiar faces from his days in Calgary where he was part of the Stamps’ 2018 title team.