There will be many Toronto Argonauts and Ottawa Redblacks playing for jobs Thursday night, but Canadian kicker Ronnie Pfeffer won’t be one of them.
The 25-year-old native of Kitchener, Ont., will open the 2018 season as Toronto’s kicker-punter after veteran Swayze Waters was released Tuesday. So the five-foot-11, 195-pound Pfeffer won’t be on the bubble when the Argos face Ottawa in Guelph, Ont., in the final exhibition game for both teams.
“I’m just trying to be a part of the team and help us win the game,” Pfeffer said. “I’m just trying to do the best I can out there, just hit a smooth ball everywhere I can and remain consistent.”
Pfeffer and Waters shared special-teams duties in Toronto’s 36-18 win Friday night over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Waters, 31, hit all three field goals he attempted but Pfeffer boasted better punt and kickoff averages (53.7 and 70.7 yards, respectively) than Waters (44.7 and 60.0).
Pfeffer spent last season with Toronto but didn’t play as Lirim Hajrullahu handled all kicking duties for the Grey Cup champions. Hajrullahu signed with Hamilton in the off-season as a free agent.
Waters was in his second stint with Toronto, signing with the club in February. Waters earned a Grey Cup ring with the Argos in 2012 and was the CFL’s top special-teams player in 2014 before signing with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers after the ’15 season.
The Panthers released Waters prior to the ’16 season and he returned to the CFL in 2017 with B.C. After being let go by the Lions, Waters joined the Edmonton Eskimos, making 11-of-15 field goals (73.3 per cent) over five games.
Pfeffer split the 2015 season between Toronto and Ottawa. He made 12-of-16 field goals (75 per cent) and sported a 44.1-yard punting average in six contests with the Argos before being released, then averaged 43.2 yards on punts in five contests with the Redblacks.
After missing the entire 2016 season due to injury, Pfeffer was released by Ottawa in June 2017. He joined the Argos less than a week later.
Despite beating out Waters, Pfeffer isn’t feeling he has arrived with Toronto.
“I don’t think anyone ever is content,” he said. “I think you can always continue to get better every day.
“My goal is to get better every day and just like (Argos coach Marc Trestman) says, take it day by day . . . and just be thankful for everything.”
Pfeffer said he remains on good terms with Waters.
“Swayze is a tremendous guy,” Pfeffer said. “He was here in my first year and mentored me then . . . and we always talk on the phone or we Instagram and just talk to each other.
“I wish him the best in everything he does. Hopefully, I can go down to Mississippi and hang out with him after the season.”
Ottawa starter Trevor Harris continues to recover from a leg injury suffered in last week’s 27-7 exhibition win over Montreal. Harris said this week he’ll be ready for the Redblacks’ season-opening game June 21 at TD Place versus the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
But Ottawa head coach Rick Campbell said Thursday’s contest is an important one for some of his players.
“A large group of the guys you know are going to be around here but there’s going to be other spots that are going to be open,” he said. “(Thursday) is going to be a big night, especially for some young guys that they can come here and earn a spot whether that’s on the active roster or practice roster.
“There’s going to be some new guys that will help us this year.”