Avery shakes off poor start

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:36 AM ET

The Argos are not ready to give up on John Avery and the marquee running back isn't ready to throw in the towel, himself.

Avery, the prized free agent signing last year, suffered yet another setback Saturday night when he fumbled twice and carried the ball three times for minus-three yards in the Argos' come-from-behind 27-26 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders at the Rogers Centre. When the Argos were mounting their late rally, Avery was kneeling on the sidelines, watching rookie Hakim Hill fill his role.

While there might not be room on the roster for both running backs when the Argos face the B.C. Lions in Vancouver Friday, coach Pinball Clemons sounds like he still believes in Avery.

"There is no question he is struggling confidence-wise, whether that's related to the injury (a adductor problem that kept him out of the season opener) or whatever," Clemons said.

"The key is he hasn't stopped fighting. He's going to keep on trying and keep on fighting. We'll fight it with him too, so he's not going to have to fight alone."

Avery, who has 11 rushing yards in two games after saying before the season he thought he had a chance at 2,000 yards, thinks things will improve.

'TRUST ME'

"It's a long season," he said. "There will be a lot of games where I'll go out and you guys will forget about this one. Trust me.

"We've all had (bad) days before. I know the calibre of athlete I am and I'm not really worried about it. I hate that it happened, but that's what happens when you miss a lot of time with your team. You're just a little off."

Whether Avery can thrive in the Argos' offence remains to be seen. He hasn't been shy in saying he becomes more effective with more carries and the Argos, under offensive co-ordinator Kent Austin, have given Avery just nine carries in two games.

"I knew I was going to be limited in how many opportunities I had and you try a little too hard sometimes instead of letting the game come to you," Avery said. "I think I just tried a little too hard."

While Avery has been Hill's biggest fan, he has to get used to having competition in the backfield.

"I've never been in that situation where you make a mistake and get pulled," said Avery, who was replaced by Hill after Eddie Davis returned his fumble for a touchdown in the third quarter. "It's like the first time in my career I've ever had to go through that."


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