Avery to run with opportunity

MIKE GANTER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:20 AM ET

It's John Avery's turn again.

Claiming he felt "like Rocky before the fight" the Argonauts running back was in full Avery mode yesterday cracking on himself, reporters and, to a lesser extent, the team that employs him.

Avery can find humour in just about every situation, as comedians are wont to do, but one area of his life where that may not apply is to his playing time.

It's not a question this week with Jamel White nursing bruised ribs, but Avery has been down this road too many times to take even tomorrow's start for granted.

"There is nothing obvious around here," Avery said. "It might seem obvious but sometimes it's all smoke and mirrors."

Avery, though, has reached this level of paranoia on merit. Since his first year with the Argos in 2004 when he played in all 18 games, Avery's workload has dwindled.

First the team brought in Hakim Hill. Then it was Ricky Williams and this season White.

"It's not frustrating," Avery said. "It's more confusing than anything. It seems like whomever they bring in to be great backups, my position is the only one that is ever challenged. Every time it is challenged I have to wait my turn to show people the difference between me and everybody they put in my position."

Tomorrow's start will be his second of the season.

"I've never claimed to be the best football player, but I do claim to be the best at what I do and that's making people miss and making plays," Avery said. "Year after year that's all I've done around here and sometimes I'm allowed to do it and sometimes I'm not, but at the same time I like where I am so I just wait my turn, wait for my opportunity and when I get it I always show up."

Avery cites injuries as the cause of his inconsistent playing time.

"You put a guy in the game and take him out and make him watch and then he's got to get back into game shape," Avery said. "It's a shock to your body. Donovan Bailey, as fast as he is, wouldn't try and come out and race someone right now because he would pull every muscle in his body. Not because of his age, but because he hasn't been active, he hasn't been racing. That's what people have to understand."

Argos head coach Mike Clemons remembers from his own playing days how it made him feel when the team would bring in high-profile players at his position.

But looking at it from the perspective of a head coach, Clemons says it's is incumbent on teams to develop depth as a matter of course.

"He has had situations where he was going good and then he's been out a few weeks with injuries,'' Clemons said. "When that happens, teams are going to make a more concerted effort to make sure that they are protected in the event of an injury."

Avery said his desire to stay in Toronto has helped him get past the extended bouts of inactivity and the perceived slights by team management, but that doesn't mean he understands them.

"I played every game on one leg my first year here and we won a Grey Cup," he said.

"Now I have two healthy legs and it's even harder to get on the field."


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