Accident keeping Jeff on sidelines

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:20 AM ET

Jeff Keeping came into the Argos training camp as the projected starter at the nose guard position. Now, he has been forced out of action, potentially until the start of the season.

The second-year pro, who was slated to begin his first full season as a defensive lineman after playing as a tight end in university at Western, injured his right knee in a one-on-one drill in training camp on Monday. He was twisting one way and offensive lineman Jonathon Landon, who was blocking, twisted the other way and landed on Keeping's leg.

Keeping underwent an MRI yesterday, and while the results won't be known until today it's expected he suffered some ligament damage, although not to the anterior cruciate, which likely would require season-ending surgery.

Keeping knew immediately he had suffered an injury. He experienced a similar feeling last year in the final regular-season game when he injured his left knee playing nose guard. He missed the Eastern final 16 days later, in which the Argos lost to the Montreal Alouettes. Had the Argos won and gone to the Grey Cup, he may have played with a knee brace.

Keeping, who impressed the coaching staff last year with his athleticism and ability to switch to defence, had been projected as the starter this year following the off-season retirement of veteran Noah Cantor.

"I came into camp this year in the best shape of my life," Keeping said. "I did specific training all off-season in injury prevention stuff, tightening up my knees at the end of every workout to keep all those muscles tight. Coming into training camp the first time with the defence and finally feeling comfortable with it, I felt like I was playing well and learning. It's a huge disappointment for me.

"I trained every day just to be healthy for this season. It's absolutely just a fluke football accident and it's just unfortunate that it's kind of the same injury. The year's not spoiled, that's for sure. This one didn't feel as bad as the left. You never want to get hurt, but in the worst-case scenario I'm back for the season opener."

With Keeping sidelined, former Ottawa Renegades defensive tackle Marc Pilon is lining up with the first-team, but regardless who starts the Argos plan to significantly rotate some of their front seven for down-and-distance purposes and to keep them fresh.

THE RICKY WATCH

No movement on the Argos pursuit of Ricky Williams because of legal issues concerning his contract with the Miami Dolphins, who are worried the running back may be stuck in Canada because of the Canadian Football League's option-year clause. The Argos have indicated they will let the player return after one season by releasing him, but the Dolphins want legal clarification.

Williams' agent, Leigh Steinberg, indicated in a story on MSNBC.com the clause shouldn't totally impede a deal.

"I've been doing this for 30 years and have come up with of the most progressive contract innovations in the history of the (NFL)," he said.


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