Durie endears himself to Argos

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:10 AM ET

Andre Durie might not win a job as a running back with the Argos, but he has captured the hearts of the coaching staff.

And because he has done that, Durie stands a solid chance of making it through training camp without getting the news that he has been cut.

A former star at York University, Durie blew out his left knee in York's second game of the 2005 season and did not play a down of football again until the Argos' pre-season opener against the Montreal Alouettes last week.

"It has been awesome, my football senses are coming back very nicely and there are no physical problems whatsoever," Durie said after morning practice yesterday at the University of Toronto's Erindale campus. "It was not even in my thought process that I would be here."

In the months that followed his injury -- he suffered ligament and muscle damage and for a time was paralyzed below the knee because of nerve damage -- Durie had three operations and there were times, he acknowledged, when he figured there was no point in trying to get back on the gridiron.

But with help from a support team of family, friends and doctors, Durie persevered.

Argos coach Michael (Pinball) Clemons and offensive co-ordinator Steve Buratto have been won over by Durie's determination.

"To be perfectly honest, I have never been around anybody who was hurt that bad," Buratto said. "He is further along than most guys I have ever seen with reconstructions.

"At this time last year he could hardly walk, and he has made a wonderful recovery."

GREAT ATTITUDE

Said Clemons: "I fall in love with the attitude that defies logic, regardless of who embodies it. That attitude, in which people demand so much of themselves, is the space I would like every player on our team to be in."

An everyone-goes-home-happy ending to the story would see Durie, a 25-year-old Mississauga native, starting in the Argos' season opener June 28 against the B.C. Lions. But the Argos are deep at running back, and even if they were not, it is unlikely Durie would not be thrust into such a spot after being out of the game for so long.

But the Argos like the fact that Durie's on-field smarts are sharp, and one gets the feeling he won't be going anywhere.

"We're going to find a way to keep him around, whether it is on the practice roster or whatever it may be," Clemons said. "There's a good chance we will have him in some capacity because he is such a phenomenal talent."


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