Behind the line

TED RATH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:35 AM ET

He's a Canadian in a traditional American role as a running back for the Argonauts, but Toronto's own Jeff Johnson is continuing to prove his worth in the backfield with his willingness to block and muck it up for the sake of a few yards.

As a veteran, he's also counted on in a pinch in a position that's been rotating starters for the past few years. 24 hours caught up with him after a recent game:

24 hours: Since 2002, you've been slowly building a reputation in the backfield and playing more. Is this, perhaps, a breakout year?

Johnson: That'd be nice. I guess it depends on how much playing time I get. Really, I just want to work at getting better and better -- working on my discipline, reads, blocking, all that.

24 hours: As a Toronto native, do you put additional pressure on yourself playing for your home team?

Johnson: Any team you play for, you're playing to win. When I was in Hamilton, we'd come into Toronto and I'd want to kick Argo ass. But there's nothing like playing for your hometown. I love being an Argo. It's a real sense of pride for me.

24 hours: You were a hockey player growing up, as well. Did you choose football or did football choose you?

Johnson: Football chose me. I was in Grade 12 at Etobicoke Collegiate in the weight room working out and a guy came in and said: 'You're a big guy. You should try out for the football team.' So I did. Turned out the starting running back got hurt so the coach told me to play tailback. I had no clue what I was doing. I just started running and running. I got five touchdowns that first game. And that was that.

24 hours: You and your wife are expecting your first child in August. Football player or hockey player?

Johnson: It could be a dancer, or an artist -- whatever he or she chooses. My family was always there to support me in whatever I did. I'm going to do the same. When it comes down to it, it's the support that's important, no matter what you choose to do.


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