Avery sitting out

The future appears promising for Hakim Hill, who will start for the Toronto Argonauts on Saturday....

The future appears promising for Hakim Hill, who will start for the Toronto Argonauts on Saturday. (Toronto Sun/Fred Thornhill)

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:11 AM ET

The thrill is in, the veteran is out.

Flashy rookie Hakim (The Thrill) Hill makes his regular-season pro debut tomorrow night at running back versus the B.C. Lions at the Rogers Centre.

He supplants John Avery, who remains sidelined with an injury that kept him out of the pre-season games.

Hill showed well in training camp and then in the pre-season, including scoring a 51-yard touchdown on a pass play in the last game.

"I'm very excited," Hill said yesterday. "It's a big deal and I just want to make (the coaches) proud (and) be here for my team when they need me. That's all I want to do.

"It's very exciting to try and think about the first game --nationally televised, Grey Cup rematch -- but I can't think about that stuff. I just want to go out and play ball. That's what I have to focus on -- going out there and having fun. The more fun you have, the better you play."

Avery, who battled to be ready for the regular-season opener a year ago after a knee injury sidelined him in training camp and the pre-season, learned yesterday he would not be in the lineup tomorrow. The football operations staff had to set the roster two days in advance of the game.

"I want to play, but I trust the coaches' judgement," he said. "They've been watching me progress. I felt like I was fast enough to be dangerous, but (in) another week I'll probably feel a bit better."

Avery thought he'd suffered an injury to the adductor -- a muscle that acts to draw a part toward the midline of the body -- in training camp. When treatment failed to resolve the problem, he had an ultrasound which revealed a minor tear in the groin area.

KNEW AHEAD OF TIME

He seemed to be practising well this week and took first-team reps as late as Wednesday, showing no signs of any physical problem, but had the upper part of his right leg in a wrap while practising briefly yesterday. He'd been informed ahead of time he wouldn't be playing in the game.

"No matter if (the team's) judgement is good or this is going to help me more than hurt me, it's still hard to sit and watch a football game, no matter if it's pre-season or regular season," he said. "I worked so hard in the off-season to get myself ready and get my body ready to take on the load and for something little like this to happen after I put the knee behind me ... but you just don't want to make it worse. That's basically what they're saying.

"They're excited about how fast I'm moving, but at the same time they said they'd rather have me for 17 games than to play the first one, get re-injured and then miss the next three or four."


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