Avery back as backup

LANCE HORNBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:35 AM ET

Pinball Clemons will be glad to know he doesn't have to watch his back on the sidelines this week where disgruntled spare running back John Avery is concerned.

"I'm not a crazy person. I'm not going to be on TSN for choking the coach," Avery said yesterday as he came to grips with being second fiddle in the Argonauts plans. "It's just crazy every year, that I can make the plays, but I'm the odd man out."

Avery was referring to the coaching staff leaning toward Canadian Football League newbie Jamel White for Thursday's season opener here against the B.C. Lions. The call was made after two exhibition games, the last of which was a 34-26 loss in Montreal where the running backs took a backseat to the auditioning of quarterbacks.

The whole offence looked jumpy and Avery earned just four yards on three carries, White 15 on four lugs.

Avery didn't use the word injustice, but implied it at many turns in his scrum with reporters as he spoke of getting bumped by Hakim Hill and Ricky Williams at earlier junctures in his stint as an Argo. Now White, whose entire career has been in the NFL, is getting first shot against the Lions at the Rogers Centre.

"I was going on one leg sometimes," Avery said of playing while injured and keeping his job.

"Now I'm running on two and (sitting). Last year, when Ricky was starting there were guys on the other team coming up to me after the game and saying, 'I'm glad we didn't have to face you.'

"At the end of the day, it's about my track record.

"But my hunger is to win. Right now, this is the best decision for the team. I've been told since I started playing at six years old that I would have to wait my turn. The only thing John Avery can do is be ready and show he can play. I'll ride this thing out."

The 31-year-old is in the last year of his contract.

Offensive co-ordinator Steve Buratto said he understood Avery's frustrations.

"I would have been disappointed if he hadn't been upset," Buratto said. "But he made mistakes and the other guy (White) didn't."

Buratto indicated those errors had to do with protection rather than running.

Buratto said White is quickly assimilating to the Canadian game and he has total confidence in using him so soon.

By now, Clemons is used to Avery sounding off about his role on the team, but insists there is no rift that can't be closed.

"We plan on dressing two import running backs (at some point) this season," Clemons said. "We'll do what's right and we will treat John with respect.

"That's why we keep him around. He's on the outside of the decision right now, but he's on the 46-man roster."


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