May 14, 2024

Landry: 5 QB battles to watch at training camp

The quarterback landscape across the CFL looks pretty stable, overall, with at least five teams appearing to be set at QB1 as training camps

You could argue that number is as high as seven, really, with just the Argos and REDBLACKS most assuredly in the ‘hopeful’ stage when it comes to starters.

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There are locks across the league, in a majority of places, with Vernon Adams Jr. (BC), McLeod Bethel-Thompson (EDM), Jake Maier (CGY), Trevor Harris (SSK), Zach Collaros (WPG), Bo Levi Mitchell (HAM) and Cody Fajardo (MTL) all presumptive starters, although a couple of them (Maier and Mitchell) might be a little less locked in than the rest.

With that in mind, here’s a look at some interesting training camp pivot battles ahead of the 2024 season.


The team with the biggest question mark at quarterback is obviously the Argos, with their 2023 starter, Chad Kelly, suspended for at least half the season.

It would appear that it is “over to you, Cameron Dukes,” in Toronto and it will be intriguing (‘nerve-racking’ Argo fans would likely argue is a better term) to see how Dukes responds to being thrust into a role he was not expecting.

That’s if he does, in fact, win the job.

It’s logical to assume that Dukes is at the top of the depth chart based on how the Argos deployed him and Bryan Scott (third-string) in 2023.

Dukes won favourable reviews when Toronto gave him his first CFL start in Winnipeg, in Week 17. The Argos lost that game, but Dukes displayed pretty good poise considering he was thrown into the madhouse that is Princess Auto Stadium, against a terrific defence that was very, very motivated.

You’ve got to believe that there will be plenty of room for Scott to stake his claim during camp and pre-season, though, and if the 28-year-old performs well, then the Argos would naturally need to seriously consider jumping him up over Dukes. We don’t really have much to go on with Scott, though. He attempted just four passes in 2023, all against Winnipeg, all incomplete, all in that Week 17 game when he was trotted out late for a look. He’ll get a better opportunity in the upcoming preseason.

There’s an unknown quarterback in the mix, too. In signing six-foot-four, 225-pound Raquet Hunter last month, the Argos might merely have been looking for a short-yardage plunge pivot for their roster. But if Dukes and Scott falter, he could end up being on a fast track to starting.


Will Dru Brown be the REDBLACKS quarterback in 2024? (

In Ottawa, plenty to choose from (seven quarterbacks on the roster), although there is a presumed starter.

In trading for Dru Brown during the off-season, the REDBLACKS are hopeful they have found a high-level and consistent performer in the 27-year-old pivot, who spent his first three CFL seasons in Winnipeg.

It was Brown’s performances in 2023 that really cemented him at the top of the pecking order when it comes to potential breakthrough starters. But with the Bombers remaining firmly a Zach Collaros team, it was time for Brown to move on.

Brown’s numbers were good in Winnipeg last season, as he went 62-for-89 for 983 yards and nine touchdowns, and not a single interception. It was more than his numbers that turned heads, though. The Winnipeg offence looked pretty well just the same, style-wise when Brown was playing in place of Collaros. And not many beats were missed, if at all.

With a relatively small sample of work, it’s hard to say just what Brown will be as a starter and so the REDBLACKS will be keen to keep an eye on second-year man Dustin Crum, who did well as an emergency replacement with no previous experience during the 2023 season. Crum’s performances ran the spectrum, though, from dazzling to just okay on occasion. Can he deliver consistently at a high level?

The REDBLACKS – and the rest of us – already know how good Jeremiah Masoli can be and had his personal script played out differently last season, Ottawa might not have gone quarterback shopping at all in the off-season. Problem is that Masoli is coming off a second major injury in as many years and, like last year, it’s not known just when he’ll be ready for full action. Still, with less than sure bets joining him on the Ottawa roster – including young prospect Tyrie Adams who’s been transferred to the Injured Veteran list along with Masoli – the REDBLACKS are probably thinking it’d be a good idea to keep the 36-year-old on the roster just in case Plan A and Plan B go awry.


Bo Levi Mitchell was seen in a walking boot at Ticats rookie camp last week but was without it on Monday (The Canadian Press)

It’s not that veteran Bo Levi Mitchell shouldn’t be considered the favourite to be the starter to open the season.

It’s just that he wasn’t the Bo we knew when he did play in 2023, which was not as often as expected, due to injuries. And then he arrived at this year’s rookie camp with a walking boot around that right foot and ankle of his.

Nothing to worry about, a bootless Mitchell said after Ticats’ practice on Monday. He’d just overdone it in training about three weeks ago. Gonna be ready for Week 1? “Yes, a hundred per cent,” said Mitchell.

Can Mitchell return to form? If so, can the Ticats keep him healthy? He’s only 34-years-old, and for quarterbacks, that ain’t old anymore. So there is room for hope for Ticats fans, that Mitchell can still sling them to an end to that quarter-century Grey Cup drought.


In 2023, Taylor Powell was thrust into the spotlight when both Mitchell and his understudy, Matthew Shiltz, were sidelined. And as a rookie, Powell displayed the poise I mentioned when referencing Cameron Dukes, only Powell showed it over eleven appearances, including nine starts, throwing for nearly 2,300 yards. Handled himself at the podium, too, which is to say that the 25-year-old shows plenty of down-to-earth maturity.

Powell appears to have the abilities to win the job. A newly-signed contract extension suggests the Ticats feel the same way.


I’ll keep this short and sweet.

Jake Maier is the starter and it would be shocking if he was not.

But veteran Matthew Shiltz, a free agency signing in the off-season, has a knack for getting into game action and then having people say “maybe he should be starting.”

Worth keeping an eye on.


The Elks brought in McLeod Bethel-Thompson to be their starter and to tutor young Tre Ford and so you can’t really expect it will be otherwise. But after seeing Ford’s obvious talents in 2023, you have to allow for at least the possibility that after an off-season of contemplation, study and technique-honing, he might be ready to dazzle in camp, making head coach Chris Jones’ decision a tougher one than expected.

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