Avery expected to face Als

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:37 AM ET

The Argos are hoping it will be J.A. all day on Thursday.

Argos coach Pinball Clemons said yesterday he expects veteran running back John Avery to return to the lineup Thursday in Montreal against the Alouettes.

Avery, who suffered a hip flexor injury in training camp, missed the Argos' previous game in B.C. against the Lions July 15 and also sat out the season opener. In his two games this season, Avery has struggled, carrying the ball nine times for just 11 yards and fumbling twice.

LOOKING GOOD

"John Avery is looking good and moving around well and (him playing Thursday) is our expectation," Clemons said. "Mentally, I want to see him continue to be a little bit stronger. When something like that (sitting out) happens, it's an eye opener, whereas last year we allowed him to play through (other struggles) the whole year. He did a great job in doing so. Now, when we give him a break it's almost like, 'Well, do they love me anymore?' Yes, we still love you."

Avery, who did not criticize Clemons' decision to dress rookie Hakim Hill in his place in B.C., said he spent time on the practice field while the team was off last week. Avery said before the season he felt he could rush for 2,000 yards this year and while that appears to be a stretch now, he doesn't think it's impossible.

"It's never out of the question," said Avery, who is sporting a ponytail after ditching his corn rows last week. "It's a matter of if I get comfortable and I get the ball enough to do my thing. That's what it's all about. You've got some guys in this league (whose) first five or six carries look like mine but the thing about it is they get 20 more to put on top of that. I'm just hoping I can get into a groove and get into a rhythm. Once I get into a rhythm, you're going to see me dance."

The Argos are last in the CFL in rushing yards (174) and carries (43). Clemons wants to see Avery have the ball in his hands more often than in previous games.

"In order to be successful, he's got to get the ball," Clemons said. "That's the No. 1 thing, we have to try to get him enough opportunities. You look around the league at what different guys are doing, it's plug, plug, plug, plug, plug and then there's a big play. We've got to give him a chance to touch the ball enough times where he can have his share of big plays, too."


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