Patience for Avery

The Argos' John Avery shows some jump during yesterday's steamy workout. A hip flexor injury...

The Argos' John Avery shows some jump during yesterday's steamy workout. A hip flexor injury suffered last week may keep Avery out of Friday's final pre-season game. (Toronto Sun/Alex Urosevic)

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:13 AM ET

If John Avery has to miss both pre-season games for the second year in a row, so be it.

The Argos' marquee running back, who suffered a hip flexor injury last week, will not lose sleep if that possibility becomes reality.

Avery didn't participate in most drills at practice yesterday, leaving his status in doubt for the pre-season finale Friday in Hamilton against the Tiger-Cats.

"When you're in position to go into a season healthy and help a team, that's the most important part," Avery said after watching impressive rookie Hakim Hill take most of the reps in practice. "I don't feel any sense of urgency to get into a pre-season game.

"My knee is feeling 10 times better (than last year when he underwent off-season surgery) and the first couple of days of camp, people saw me flying around. I have a lot more confidence this year. This is just a small thing, I want to keep it a small thing. On opening day (next Saturday against the B.C. Lions at the Rogers Centre), I'll be ready."

Argos coach Pinball Clemons also is preaching patience.

"If (Avery) is 100% healthy, he'll play," Clemons said. "If not, he won't.

"It doesn't concern me. He has played enough football. It would be nice to give him some reps, but it is not a necessity. I don't think Robert Drummond ever played in a pre-season game the whole time he was here. It didn't seem to affect him in (the regular season)."

If Hill keeps up the good work, it will be interesting to see how the Argos use the rookie and Avery, the bigger-name veteran.

For the second day in a row, the Argos threw a few balls Hill's way at practice and he made several nice catches.

"(Hill) has great hands and he's definitely in the top three on the team," offensive co-ordinator Kent Austin said.

"If need be, he probably could (line up as a receiver) as long as he's cross-trained."

Avery envisions a double-headed running back monster.

"During the season, (opponents) are not going to be pointing at No. 20 (Avery) no more, they're going to say No. 17 (Hill) is in the game," Avery said.

"That's the balance we need, especially if we run the ball a bit more."

BRIEFLY

Michael Bishop, the Argos' No. 2 quarterback, is expected to return to practice today after spending the weekend participating in Arena Bowl activities.


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