Rookie Trumaine Washington not dwelling upon impressive start with Argos

TORONTO — Trumaine Washington isn’t dwelling upon his impressive performance Friday night with the Toronto Argonauts.

The rookie defensive back was rock solid in Toronto’s 36-18 exhibition road win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats with six tackles, an interception he returned 50 yards and one sack. But all that did was earn the five-foot-eight, 190-pound former Louisville star another week at the Argos’ training camp.

“The past is the past,” Washington said. “I’m going to focus on making more plays, trying to better myself and make sure I secure a spot on this team.”

Washington wasn’t the only youngster to shine Friday as Toronto didn’t dress the majority of its starters. Offensively, running back Brandon Burks took a McLeod Bethel-Thompson screen pass 27 yards for a touchdown that gave the Argos a 20-6 lead late in the second quarter.

Burks’ quick explosion turned a usually routine play into something big.

“The guys who had an opportunity made the most of it,” Toronto head coach Marc Trestman said. “We know what’s coming up is another opportunity for them to not only show what they can do for us but around the league.”

Trestman said many of the new faces who played against Hamilton will be in the lineup Thursday night when Toronto concludes its exhibition season facing the Ottawa Redblacks in Guelph, Ont.

“The guys who didn’t play won’t play,” he said. “The guys who did play will play. “

One change will come at quarterback with James Franklin, who replaced Bethel-Thompson to begin the second half, starting against Ottawa. Bethel-Thompson will open the second half as the battle for the backup job behind starter Ricky Ray continues.

Washington, 22, joined the Argos following a productive collegiate career. The Miami native appeared in 42 games at Louisville, registering 141 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, four sacks, 10 interceptions, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

A two-time honourable mention All-ACC pick, Washington is one of four players in school history to register at least 10 interceptions and 20 pass knockdowns. He led Louisville in interceptions in both 2015 and ‘17, registering four each year.

Washington admits he came to Toronto knowing precious little about Canadian football but showed Friday he’s been quick to learn. Hamilton singled him out on its first two offensive plays but Washington responded by holding Brandon Banks, one of the league’s fastest receivers, to a six-yard gain with a solid tackle before knocking down a pass intended for Jalen Saunders.

Later in the first, Washington’s knockdown of a pass intended for Luke Tasker resulted in a Hamilton turnover on downs. In the second, Washington’s interception return to the Ticats’ 32-year line set up Swayze Waters’ 33-yard field goal that put Toronto ahead 13-0.

It was at Louisville that Washington began taking down pre-game notes to help with his overall preparation.

“It started my freshman year (from) my coaching telling me to take notes to make the game easier and slow it down,” he said. “Before every game I watch film on the opponent to see their tendencies and what they want to do.

“I set personal goals for that game so I can go out there and achieve those goals … and perfect my craft. I try to catch a pick every game. Sometimes it doesn’t happen but I try (for interception) and fly around the ball and be around it and get pass breaks when the ball is thrown at me.”

With the return of veterans Johnny Sears Jr. and Cassius Vaughn and off-season acquisitions of T.J. Heath and Ronnie Yell, Washington faces an uphill battle to secure a starting spot with Toronto. But another solid performance Thursday would certainly boost his chances.

“This is a pretty solid team,” he said. “I’m happy to be a part of it.”

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