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Veteran RB Carey enjoys solid debut in Argos win over Lions

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TORONTO — It didn't take Ka'Deem Carey long to fit into the Toronto Argonauts' offence.

The veteran running back accumulated 105 yards from scrimmage Sunday night in Toronto's season-opening 35-27 home win over B.C. Carey rushed for 65 yards on 16 carries (4.1-yard average) and added four catches for 40 yards and a touchdown as the Argos ran for 120 yard overall on 26 carries.

It was a solid debut for Carey, who signed with Toronto this off-season after being released by the Calgary Stampeders.

"That's why we brought him in," said head coach Ryan Dinwiddie, who is also Toronto's offensive co-ordinator. "A lot of people bet against Ka'Deem.

"Our running game is going to be exactly what it was last year. He's a good player."

Toronto averaged 113.7 yards rushing per game in 2023, fourth-best in the CFL. A.J. Ouellette (1,009 yards, eight TDs) anchored that ground attack but signed with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in free agency.

Carey led the CFL in rushing yards (1,088) and TDs (10) in 2022 while adding 28 catches for 248 yards in 14 regular-season games. Injuries limited Carey to nine contests last season as he ran for 476 yards on 89 carries (5.3-yard average) with 21 receptions for 156 yards.

Carey's seamless transition shouldn't come as a big surprise. The five-foot-nine, 206-pound Carey is cut from the same cloth as Ouellette (five foot nine, 210 pounds) and a Toronto offensive line that allowed a CFL-low 19 sacks last year has returned intact.

"I've always believed in myself," Carey said. "This opportunity playing behind this line, the talent I've got around me, it's easy to show my talent and shine a little bit.

"I took some hits now, but I feel excellent. It felt great to see how big those holes were. They gave me so much room that I can show my abilities and make people miss. I'm excited to keep running behind those men."

After being released, Carey expectedly said he has something to prove this year. But the 31-year-old from Arizona added he always feels that way.

"Every day I step out here I've got a lot to prove," he said. "I don't really care about the media too much.

"I didn't hear too much this off-season about me but we can keep it that way. I'm just excited to show everybody who I can be."

Carey appeared in 44 regular-season games with Calgary (2018-19, 2021-23), running for 2,855 yards and 19 TDs. He also registered 90 receptions for 732 yards and one touchdown.

Carey was a '14 fourth-round pick of the Chicago Bears following his college career at Arizona. He appeared in 37 regular-season games over three NFL seasons, rushing for 443 yards (four-yard average) and two TDs while adding 13 catches for 131 yards and a touchdown.

Carey was a two-time all-American (2012-13) and the Pac-12's top player (2013) at Arizona. He ran for 4,239 yards and 48 TDs in 36 collegiate games.

Carey's touchdown Sunday was his first since '22. It was the second receiving touchdown in Carey's CFL career and first since 2019.

"I got the monkey off my back, we can say that," he said. "It was already a different start, a different vibe out here, just a different me.

"I'm just excited to be on this team and just keep winning. It feels good to win."

And that will be the focus June 22 when Toronto resumes action hosting the Edmonton Elks and former Argos quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson.

"That's the attitude," he said. "We've got one down and we're looking at 17 more to go.

"This team was real close last year and I'm just trying to be that finishing piece."

A fact not lost upon Dinwiddie, whose team earned its fourth straight home victory over B.C.

"We beat them at home, big deal, we've got to go to Vancouver and win the damn game," he said. "We should beat them at home.

"It was good for us, our locker room and the 2024 Argonauts, let's see where we're at. It's going to be a process . . . but I feel like we've got a chance to win a lot of football games this year but it starts with the next one."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 10, 2024.