Sato’s goal at first CFL camp, via Japan, with Argos: Make a fine impression, earn a job


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Toshiki Sato isn’t at Argonauts training camp trying to become another good off-day story.


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The 27-year-old native of Japan has something a little bigger in mind.

“I didn’t come here to be the backup kicker, I came here to be the first kicker and bring victory to the team,” Sato said on Wednesday. “I compete every day with Boris (Bede) and also compete with myself. It’s a great opportunity to be better for me.”

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The Argos chose Sato in the second round of the 2021 Canadian Football League global draft, and for head coach Ryan Dinwiddie, Sato represents a lot more than just a point of curiosity.

After attending Waseda University in Tokyo, Sato embarked on a pro career with IBM Big Blue of Japan’s X-League in 2016, starring for four seasons before playing in the Spring League in the U.S. Along the way, Sato has worked with former National Football League kicker Michael Husted.


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“Toshiki was a little bit of an unknown,” Dinwiddie said. “We felt good about him, and that’s why we picked him in the global draft. He is learning his way. He has been hitting the ball nice, we have to get better in his spots.”

Bede’s experience in the CFL and his success in five seasons with the Montreal Alouettes should place him on the inside track to start in the Argos’ 2021 regular-season opener on Aug. 7 in Calgary against the Stampeders.

Does Dinwiddie envision one man handling the kicking and punting duties once camp is finished?

“We will see how that is going to play out,” Dinwiddie said. “Both guys are capable of doing both. One guy goes down, the next-guy-is-up type of deal.

“We want guys, especially the kicker, to be confident what they are doing, make sure we don’t mess with them psychologically. Those guys are doing a heck of a job and they continue to get better and we’re very excited about them.


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“They have both been solid. Boris is the savvy vet, he is mentally strong, really physically gifted, he has a big leg. The thing with Boris is, I want to get him a little better at punting, he has done that in camp.”

As Sato continues to adjust to the CFL game, his comfort is growing.

“Still I need to perform better,” Sato said. “I’m not satisfied with my performing here yet. I believe I can be better.

“I need to show how good I am to the coaches and teammates. I need to let them believe in me as a kicker. Every day I try to do my best.”


At first glance during Argos camp at the University of Guelph, offensive lineman Shane Richards might not be recognizable.

For good reason.

The first pick overall in the 2019 CFL draft, Richards arrived at camp last weekend at approximately 290 pounds, some 60 pounds lighter than he was when the 2019 season ended.


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The 6-foot-8 Richards said that ideally, he would like to top out at “a solid 310” pounds.

“My thought process was that I needed to get more flexible, that I needed to lose some mass to get more flexible,” Richards said. “I’d say my quick twitches are a little faster now, my redirecting skills are a lot better, my hips are a lot more open.”

The road to the extreme weight loss had some interesting turns and didn’t always go smoothly.

A change in diet, different weight-lifting regimens and learning to box all impacted Richards’ physique.

“Leaving the 2019 season, I played with a lot of diets,” Richards said. “I was vegan for a little bit, vegetarian for a bit. I didn’t do Keto, but I did those things to get an understanding of how much calories I really needed. That’s where is started.


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“Once COVID hit, I picked up boxing because I found a lot of correlation between boxing and offensive line play, particularly with striking, punching, moving the feet, the mental aspect of it.

“Moving around the ring, you’re playing in a box the entire time which is the offensive lineman’s world for the most part. Once I made that correlation, we got into it.”

The boxing lessons resulted in a weight loss that dropped Richards to the range of 250-260 pounds, so he increased his workouts in the gym to arrive at his present weight.

With the body difference, Richards said he is leaning on his on-field technique a little more now, though he noted his strength is at about 90% of what it was before he shed the pounds.

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Of course, Dinwiddie has taken note.


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“No question,” Dinwiddie said. “(Richards’ quickness) is night and day from (2019).

“I’m not going to say he has arrived by any means. He is still wet behind the ears, but he’s willing to work, and he’s trying to get better, and that’s all I could ask for.”

Richards, who two years ago played in eight games as a rookie, has the confidence in himself to become a difference-maker for the Argos.

“That’s kind of where I’m trying to keep my head at — am I doing the right things off the field, am I locked in, mentally am I there?” Richards said. “If I wasn’t the person I think I am, the player I think I am, I wouldn’t be sitting here.”



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