Johnson gives Argos a lift

FRANK ZICARELLI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:55 AM ET

Having sufficiently recovered from a torn muscle in his arm, the Argos are hoping veteran Jeff Johnson can provide a much-needed shot in the arm.

Such is the state of the 1-2 Argos, who limp into Winnipeg this Friday on a two-game losing streak, that Johnson's availability is being hailed.

Johnson is one of those solid off-the-field citizens whose on-field work often gets overlooked.

The York University product never has complained during his run with the Double Blue, even when it was obvious he should have had more touches out of the backfield.

Given he'll be forced to wear a protective brace on his left arm, it's doubtful how much of an impact Johnson will have against the Blue Bombers when he does line up in the Argos' backfield.

How much of a receiving threat Johnson may loom is also doubtful, but there's no doubt his presence on special teams will be felt.

The Argos have been exposed in many areas three weeks into the CFL's regular season, but one of the most problematic has been on special teams.

Players of Johnson's ilk carve their niche on special teams before they are given a consistent look at their chosen position, a process many Canadians have to endure.

He's a leader on a team that needs leadership and his experience is certainly good news on an inexperienced Argos team in desperate need of a win.

"I do not like being on the sidelines,'' Johnson, 32, said following yesterday's practice. "I broke my leg a couple of years ago, but before that I had never missed a game in eight years.

"Last season, I played in all 18 games, so I'm not a guy who is used to being injured. Knock on wood, (the arm) is good to go and the rest of the season will be fine."

Johnson broke into the CFL with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2000.

Friday's game against Winnipeg will usher in Johnson's 2009 season debut, which officially will herald his eighth regular season as an Argo.

It was during last month's pre-season game at Ivor Wynne Stadium when Johnson tore his left triceps muscle while attempting to make a block.

Johnson's value can't be measured in yards gained from scrimmage or any special teams yard stick.

He's the embodiment of professionalism and his insight and experience can't hurt an Argos team that is hurting.

Johnson has seen it all and knows what to expect and how to react to whatever situation is presented on the gridiron, especially on special teams.

"If you think about it, more yards get exchanged on one special teams play than any play on offence or defence,'' Johnson said.

"It's a huge opportunity for a team to gain field position either way. If you dominate it, there are many, many yards to be gained."

Without Johnson, the net gains in field position created by the Argos have been marginal.

Johnson refers to the protective contraption he'll don as a "Robocop brace.''

In a nutshell, the brace will keep his arm in a locked position and will prevent muscle movement from going into the weak area of his arm.

It's sounds onerous, but Johnson is hopeful the brace won't limit his effectiveness.

"It's not ideal, but I'll see how it feels after the game," he said.

The fact Johnson will be able to play has the Argos feeling good, a feeling the team hasn't had in two weeks.


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