Injury won't hamstring Argos

John Avery (left) and Arland Bruce III bop to the beat as the Argos are forced inside by the rain...

John Avery (left) and Arland Bruce III bop to the beat as the Argos are forced inside by the rain yesterday. The Argos will know after practice today or tomorrow whether Avery's hamstring is healed enough for him to play in the East final. (Toronto Sun/Fred Thornhill)

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:10 AM ET

It likely will take only a practice or two for the Argos to decide whether running back John Avery will play in the East division final.

Head coach Pinball Clemons made that clear yesterday on a rainy day in which the Argos did some light work at an indoor practice facility in Oakville.

Today and tomorrow will involve more structured workouts, after which the team will make a decision on Avery, who missed the last three games of the season with a hamstring tear. He initially was replaced by Sean Millington, who was shelved for the season in his first start with a ruptured Achilles tendon. Jeff Johnson then came on and has played solidly.

"We're really eager to see how (Avery does)," Clemons said. "Obviously, that's a particular concern to us. I don't like the fact that there is still some worry. The weather really doesn't help that out, either, but we won't form any judgment.

"We'll start to get an idea (today) whether or not he'll be able to play," Clemons said. "We won't deliberate a long time on that this week because of the importance of this game. You've got to get in, you've got to play, you've got to get your timing.

"We feel very, very comfortable if Jeff Johnson is our starting running back going into the game, but we will give it at least a day, if not a couple days, before we get to a decision point."

Avery said he is feeling "pretty confident," but said if he can't practise at a high level it won't even be a coaches' decision whether he will play.

"I won't allow myself to go out there and take another guy's roster spot if he can go out there and play at a high level," Avery said. "That's just being selfish. But if I do have a good week of practice, of course I expect to start. But at the same time I don't want to mess up the continuity right now. J.J.'s playing great ball. It's nothing that I didn't expect. Everybody has the talent to go in there and make the play happen and make a win come out of this thing. I'll take (the win) any way I can get it, whether it's (with) me or anybody else."

Avery has been working out with former Canadian sprint star Desai Williams, who has been helping the players with core conditioning and speed drills.

"I don't really feel anything (physically wrong), it's a confidence thing," Avery said. "I know how much this next game means to us. I know that on several occasions I've been able to give Montreal the fits. I was hoping if I'm capable of doing that then, yeah, I want to out and do my thing, but if not ...

"It's not a controversy when you're a team player, If the coaches feel like right now this is the guy we want to go with, that's what you do. It has nothing to do with me," Avery said.

"(But) I'll bet on me all day long. I've been around these guys for about two years and they've learned from me just like I've learned from them. We trade off and steal stuff from each other. I'm for anybody that gets this win."


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