Willie Pile didn’t knuckle under after all.
A day after indications that the Argonauts’ free safety and defensive captain would miss the second game of the regular season because of a bruised knuckle on his right hand, Pile re-joined his teammates at practice on Tuesday and will direct the defence against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Friday night.
Pile met with a hand specialist on Monday and was told that if he could wince through a bit of pain, surgery was not necessary and he could continue playing.
“It can hurt, it can be affected by constant banging, but at the same time we are football players — and that is going to happen anyway,” Pile said.
“My threshold for pain is pretty high, and when it comes down to it, I need to be on the field.
“No surgery. I would rather let it heal up.”
Luckily, Pile is not a soccer player. By now, we’d be knee-deep in stories about the end of his career.
Pile’s quick return meant the Argos said goodbye to defensive back Dwaine Carpenter.
Pity poor Carpenter.
Cut by the Argos on June 17, he was at home in Atlanta when Argos head coach Jim Barker called him on Saturday morning. Carpenter was on the next flight to Toronto and practised with the starters on Monday, thinking he would play in Winnipeg.
Instead, he got released again.
“I was told we were not going to have (Pile), so we brought Dwaine in and he would have been ready,” Barker said.
“But you get the captain of your defence back, and have him get clearance that he is going to be fine for the rest of the year — that is a good thing. We are a lot better when we have Willie Pile back there making the calls.
“You can’t keep (extra) players here and maintain salary-cap integrity. I was honest with (Carpenter) up front. I told him what the situation was.”
Pile had two fumble recoveries in the opener and has had no problems making the transition to safety from linebacker. Had Pile been forced to the sideline for any amount of time, no matter how well Carpenter might have played, the Argos would have been at a disadvantage.
Pile had the two middle fingers on his right hand taped together for practice and probably will play that way as his knuckle gets better.
Pile suffered the injury making a tackle in the first quarter against the Stampeders, but did not take himself out of the game.
“I’m not saying the guys here can’t get it done, but I think it is more of an opportunity to let the group jell (when he is in the lineup),” Pile said.
“We can’t ascend as a group because then I am coming in and breaking up whatever chemistry it had (if he missed games). I did not want that.”
There is a small chance the Argos could be without another crafty vet on defence versus Winnipeg.
Cornerback Byron Parker is nursing an undisclosed injury and was replaced by rookie Evan McCollough on some starting team reps on Tuesday. Parker said later he will play this week.