Johnson suffers setback

FRANK ZICARELLI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:48 AM ET

When it comes to the Argos' receiving corps, the unit just can't seem to catch a break.

In the case of injured receiver Bethel Johnson, the Argos now figure it would have been better had the one-time NFLer broken his right ankle as opposed to the sprain the club said he suffered on July 4 in a 32-13 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

As soon as the Argos wrapped up their practice session yesterday, rookie head coach Rich Stubler dropped the bombshell that Johnson, a first-year Argo, won't return until the team reconvenes following its coming bye break.

If all goes well, Johnson's absence likely will amount to as long as two months, perhaps longer.

Johnson won't be available when the Argos play in Hamilton on Thursday and he won't play next Friday when the Argos play host to the Montreal Alouettes.

The Argos will then get a bye week and won't play again until Labour Day.

Without Johnson, who terrorized defensive secondaries with his flat-out speed during the pre-season, the Argos have been forced to use inexperienced receivers, in some cases raw rookies.

To date, there hasn't been anyone to complement Arland Bruce III with any degree of consistency.

Players have stepped up in stretches, but no one is striking fear in opposing defences.

The team's receiving corps is so thin that fourth-string quarterback Reggie McNeal practised at wideout yesterday for the second day in a row.

If rookie James Robinson, who strained his Achilles on Friday, isn't sufficiently healed, Stubler says McNeal will be activated for the Ticats.

The Argos first described Johnson's injury as a sprain when a teammate rolled into his ankle on what appeared to be a harmless run block.

Last week, they were convinced Johnson was 95% close to returning.

Now comes word that Johnson actually took a step back to the point where a hyperbaric chamber is being used to help accelerate his recovery.

"It's the worst injury you could have in football,'' Stubler said.

"We thought he was further along. He did some running last week and it (ankle) swelled up."

Johnson has what Stubler describes as a high-ankle sprain with some torn ligaments to the inside and outside of Johnson's lower foot.

"If this was a finite injury, like a break, you get put in a cast and you're out four weeks,'' Stubler said.

"He's back playing in six weeks. This is one of those really bad injuries."

To his credit, Stubler doesn't make excuses.

"Our receiving corps is solid,'' he said. "It doesn't matter if someone goes down because we'll just plug someone in."

UP CLOSE WITH JOSEPH

The CFL takes fans along for a unique ride with Kerry Joseph during the QB's return to Saskatchewan.

From the moment he touched down in Regina, to behind-the-scenes access in team meetings, the league followed Joseph as part of a two-part documentary.

The rare glimpses are available by logging on to www.cfl.ca and clicking on its video section.


Videos

Photos