Avery would rather have earned it

FRANK ZICARELLI -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:33 AM ET

There was no sense of relief or rejoice in John Avery's voice.

Banished to the sidelines in the wake of Ricky Williams' signing, Avery now will be asked to fill Williams' shoes as the former NFL rushing king recovers from surgery to repair a broken forearm.

"I'd be more excited if the circumstances were different," Avery said following yesterday's practice.

Avery hasn't played since the pre-season. When the Argos gathered on Monday he was forced to leave the field when he felt a muscle pull in his leg.

Avery's tenure in Toronto has been frustrating, to say the least. When he returned to the CFL in 2004, Avery was coming off knee surgery.

Unlike Williams, who is known in the football vernacular as a downhill runner, Avery is elusive.

The Argos aren't known for their running game and Avery remains the most recent back to gain in excess of 100 yards in a game, a feat he accomplished on Oct. 21, 2004.

"J.A. is a true pro and he'll be ready," fellow running back Jeff Johnson said. "He's lightning fast. Once he sees space, he takes off."

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Wide receiver Robert Baker was excused from practice yesterday when it was discovered he had food poisoning.

The Argos expect Baker to return today and expect him to start against the Lions. When the Argos travelled to Vancouver last month, a Baker fumble nixed a late-game comeback bid.

WORTHY RECIPIENTS

Defensive end Riall Johnson made quite the impression in his first career start against Saskatchewan, recording two sacks, five tackles and one forced fumble. For his efforts, Johnson was named lineman of the week by the CFL.

Bashir Levingston was chosen top special teams player following his 88-yard punt return for a touchdown, the first return major in the CFL this season.

BRIEFLY

The Argos have brought in non-import OL Tyler Tapp, a native of Newfoundland who played collegiate football at Nevada ... Injured WR Tony Miles (hamstring) says he's a long shot to play this week. When informed, head coach Michael (Pinball) Clemons replied:"He might be a long shot in his mind, but in my mind there's no shot."


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