This past weekend we saw just how valuable James Wilder Jr. has become for the Toronto Argonauts. His absence from the Argonauts lineup was deeply felt in their 30-27 loss to the Edmonton Eskimos on Saturday night at Commonwealth Stadium. The Eskimos defensive line was able to hold Brandon Whitaker to only 10 carries for 39 yards, while Cam McDaniel and Cody Fajardo only combined for six yards on four carries.
Wilder Jr. seemed to suffer an injury in the Argonauts’ 27-24 loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders on October 7. However prior to his collision with Roughriders linebacker Henoc Muamba, one could argue that Wilder Jr. was the best player in the game. He had 72 yards rushing and caught seven passes for 89 yards. His 161 total yards just shows how versatile and how much an offensive threat Wilder Jr. has become.
The native of Tampa, Florida now has 624 yards rushing and 357 yards receiving in 2017. His breakout games this season came in back-to-back Argonauts wins over the Edmonton Eskimos and Montreal Alouettes in September as Wilder Jr. ran for 331 yards in a span of two games. He had 190 yards and a touchdown in the Argonauts 34-26 win over the Eskimos on September 16 and then 141 yards and a touchdown in the Argonauts 33-19 win over the Montreal Alouettes on September 23.
It is also interesting that James Wilder Jr. is continuing the family tradition of outstanding running backs. James’s father James Wilder, played 10 seasons in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Redskins and Detroit Lions from 1981-90. He was the Buccaneers all-time rushing leader with 5957 yards and went to the Pro Bowl in 1984. James Wilder Jr. also spent a brief amount of time in the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals organizations but never played for them.
For the majority of the 2017 Canadian Football League season, the West has been better than the East. However, the Toronto Argonauts could do some serious damage in the playoffs with a healthy James Wilder Jr. in their backfield.