May 20, 2023

Hogan: The Playmaker

He’s not the fastest receiver on the Toronto Argonauts. He’s neither the biggest nor the strongest of the group.

But there’s one thing Cam Phillips does exceptionally well.

“I’m a playmaker,” he told Argonauts.ca following Friday’s practice. “There’s a playmaker factor; knowing the situation and understanding the magnitude of the play. Like you saw in the championship game last year, some of the bigger plays, some of those huge momentum plays, I can get the team going.”

Those are more than just words, as he saved his best for the biggest game of the season. Phillips led all receivers in last year’s Grey Cup game with a career-high 96 yards on four catches in the Argos 24-23 win over Winnipeg in chilly Regina.

“Everyone who was there knows how the week was as far as the weather (-20 to -30 C with the wind chill). I had never, ever seen anything like that. Negative 20? Just to go through that, I remember the cold practices, but in the game none of it mattered.”

When asked about the receiver’s best attribute, Receivers Coach and Pass Game Coordinator Pete Costanza agreed with the player that it was Phillips’ ability between the ears that separates him from some of the other receivers.

“He’s smart,” Costanza replies when asked what Phillips’ best attribute is. “He has a high football I.Q. He really understands the offence. Besides the obvious of being a good route runner, his physicality, catching the ball; he understands the concepts of what we’re asking him to do and normally is doing the right thing.”

Phillips’ production increased in 2022 after a disappointing rookie season in ’21. The increase in output shouldn’t surprise anyone though, as he was the leading receiver in the XFL in 2020; leading that league in catches, yards, and receiving touchdowns.

The Virginia Tech product spent the off-season in South Florida and prepared for this year by lifting weights, trying to get a little stronger than he was a year ago.

He also may have gained some weight in a more natural way.

“I really like to eat,” he said while sporting a huge smile. “I’m a foodie. I’ll go try a lot of different places that I see on Instagram. I recently just mastered making jambalaya. I swear, I’ve made it four times now and it’s gotten better each time.”

It’s been a recurring theme at this year’s camp that when a player is questioned about his development he immediately talks about his teammates. Phillips was no exception when he was asked about the biggest reason for his development in the ’22 season.

“My teammates played a big role in that,” he said. “Just telling me to trust me. Just go out there and make plays and just be myself. Whenever you can be who you are around a group of people, that’s special.”

Costanza says all the receivers are taking things slowly in terms of their versatility right now, but he knows Phillips will be ready when called upon.

“They’re learning their one spot now for camp but Cam’s a guy that can play all five spots for us. We really try to get them to play multiple spots, two or three positions, but Cam is a Swiss army knife in the sense that he can go out there and fill in any of the five if we needed.”

There is a talented crop of new receivers at camp this season, but if they want playing time they’ll have to try and take it away from a playmaker who is ready to improve on his 2022 season.


Head Coach Ryan Dinwiddie gave the players a chance to rest a bit by cancelling Friday’s full practice and opting for a walkthrough instead. It was a good teaching day despite the reduced tempo…The Argos would love you to spend the long weekend with them. Full practices are scheduled for both Saturday and Sunday from 9:45-12:30, while the team’s annual blue and white scrimmage will be held Monday at 4:00-5:30. All events are open to the public and are free of charge.