TORONTO — Shawn Lemon will have a little extra juice Saturday afternoon at BMO Field.
The veteran defensive lineman will make his first appearance in Toronto since being dealt to B.C. on July 24 for a player on the Lions’ negotiation list. Lemon, 29, played 33 games over two-plus seasons with the Argonauts, helping them capture a Grey Cup title last year.
— BC Lions (@BCLions) August 17, 2018
The six-foot-two, 251-pound Lemon said he was surprised to be dealt and that he’s very anxious to face his former team.
“This game means a little bit more to me just from being in the city, being teammates and winning a Grey Cup with them last year,” Lemon said. “Just having my family there and being so close for my parents to come up to the game and having the connection with the guys in the locker room I was a little disappointed (about trade).
“But I’m very thankful for the opportunity to come to the Lions. I’m definitely excited about what the future holds.”
Lemon was very outspoken on Twitter, saying the Argos offensive line couldn’t block him during practice and won’t be able to handle him Saturday. When asked if he still believed that, Lemon remained steadfast.
“Most definitely,” he said emphatically. “It is what it is.”
Lemon believes his prior experience with Toronto gives him a distinct advantage against his former team.
“I know their offence,” he said. “I know how they want to attack teams, I know how they want to attack me.”
McLeod Bethel-Thompson will make his second straight start after rallying Toronto to a stirring 42-41 win over Ottawa on Aug. 2. Bethel-Thompson threw for 302 yards and four TDs — including a 23-yard scoring strike to Armanti Edwards with nine seconds remaining — as the Argos overcame a 24-point deficit to capture the victory.
Bethel-Thompson said he’s looking forward to facing the motivated Lemon.
“He’s a great football player and I hope he brings his ‘A’ game,” Bethel-Thompson said. “To be the best you have to beat the best.
“I’m so excited to have him come in here and just play ball. We always got to go against each other in practice but he never got to touch me and hopefully he doesn’t get to touch me Saturday either.”
Toronto running back James Wilder Jr. is also looking forward to facing Lemon.
“He’s a great player, he’s feisty,” said Wilder. “I think it’s going to be pretty fun (to have) another game to go against him and actually be able to show him what I have outside of practice in a real game.”
Slotback Anthony Coombs (ankle) comes off the injured list to make his Toronto season debut in an important game for both teams.
Toronto (2-5) is third in the East Division, two points behind Hamilton (3-4). B.C. (3-4) is tied with Saskatchewan for fourth in the West Division, four points behind second-place Winnipeg and Edmonton (both 5-3).
B.C. has won its last four road games in Toronto and since 2011 is 9-5 versus the Argos. But the Double Blue is 10-4 coming off the bye since ‘11 and the Lions are 0-4 on the road this season.
“That’s obviously our next challenge,” said Lions quarterback Travis Lulay. “We set out this year to be a good home team, we talked about that in training camp and done that but we haven’t been good enough on the road.
“We want to be competitive and play like crazy to give ourselves a chance to win. It just takes a focused effort and winning in the fourth quarter if it comes down to one-score game. You’ve got to find a way to make those plays.”
Lulay, 34, will make his fifth straight start since replacing youngster Jonathon Jennings. B.C. is 2-2 under Lulay, who needed time at the start of the ‘18 campaign to fully recover from last year’s season-ending knee injury.
“I think my comfort level has grown each week, that’s natural and kind of what I expected,” he said. “The starter’s role is where I’m most comfortable … so I can lean on that past experience.
“This is a new offence for us and there’s a lot of nuances to it … there’s been a development period that’s shown some good growth. I really do feel good about the way the guys in the room feel and I have a lot of confidence in the guys I line up with.”
B.C. is also coming off a comeback win, overcoming an 20-10 half-time deficit to beat Edmonton 31-23 on Aug. 9. Lulay was 16-of-29 passing for 239 yards with a TD and interception.
B.C. (3-4) AT TORONTO (2-5)
Saturday, BMO Field
KEY MATCHUP: Argos QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson vs Lions QB Travis Lulay — It was a tale of two halves for Bethel-Thompson versus Ottawa. After struggling mightily in the first half of his CFL debut, Bethel-Thompson completed 18-of-25 passes for 233 yards and four TDs in the second half to rally Toronto to a stunning 42-41 win Aug. 2. Lulay, 34, is 2-2 since replacing Jonathon Jennings. He has completed 88-of-141 passes (62.4 per cent) for 1,171 yards with five TDs and three interceptions.
THE BIG NUMBER: 4. The Lions are 0-4 on the road this season but has won its last four visits to Toronto.
WHO’S HOT: Argos receiver S.J. Green. He had nine catches for 134 yards and two TDs in Toronto’s 42-41 comeback win over the Ottawa Redblacks on Aug. 2. Also, B.C.’s Chris Rainey leads the CFL in all-purpose yards (1,229) and kickoff return yards (608) and second overall in punt return yards (390, one TD).
WHO’S NOT: Toronto’s defence. The Argos stand second-last in offensive points allowed (27 per game), touchdowns (23) and net offensive yards (406.9) and last in sacks registered (seven), forced turnovers (11) and interceptions (four).
THE CANADIAN PRESS