Avery takes first steps toward return

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:00 AM ET

John Avery had a good day of practice, but it could be another day or two before his playing status is determined for the East division final.

The Argos running back, who hasn't played since injuring his left hamstring in a game against Winnipeg a month ago, took a full set of reps yesterday in preparation for Sunday's game against Montreal at the Rogers Centre. Head coach Pinball Clemons said earlier this week that the team won't take long to decide on whether Avery will suit up for the game.

"Coach Clemons saw me running and he didn't really understand what I meant when I said, 'I'm ready,' " Avery said jokingly. "He was impressed. I didn't feel comfortable because I hadn't taken any handoffs and made any reads or cuts and stuff. About midway through practice I settled down.

"I was able to cut instinctively, read blocks and accelerate through the hole and run. That was big for me. It's one thing to get the coaches looking at you like you're comfortable, but the whole issue is my timing is off. As far as when I get the ball, everything is fine. I may be a step or a step and a half out of position before I get the ball. When I get the ball my natural instincts take over, but my timing is off.

"With the CFL game, especially in the run game which happens so quick, your timing has to be almost perfect. I'm hoping I can get it down in the next couple of days.

"As much as I would like to play in this game and be effective and get to the Grey Cup, it's also imperative for me to be 100% and worry-free. Not being able to do the things I do, that which I'm known for, is not going to help us. They're going to monitor me and watch what I do, see if I favour anything. I don't feel like I'm favouring anything. I really block it out when I'm running and just do it."

CROWDED HOUSE

The Argos indicated yesterday that stadium capacity at the Rogers Centre for Sunday's game will be about 45,000.

The team will not remove any of the banners in the upper bowl which salute Argos greats. The banners were added to create ambience at the stadium and are designed to be a permanent fixture for home games, but may be removed for the 2007 Grey Cup game to raise seating capacity to more than 50,000.


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