Copeland says he is ready to play

TERRY KOSHAN, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:57 PM ET

Jeremaine Copeland has come to a conclusion in the past few weeks.

Watching football sucks.

The Argonauts slotback is just a doctor’s green light away from returning to the lineup on Sunday afternoon versus the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, but already he has pencilled himself in for an important game against an East Division rival. Copeland, a portrait of durability in that he missed only two games in the previous seven seasons, has missed the Argos’ past three with a dislocated left elbow.

But the gregarious Copeland, acquired by head coach Jim Barker to infuse some leadership in the Argos’ receiving corps, is all set to lead by example again.

“It has been rough,” Copeland said after participating in the majority of first-team reps at practice on Thursday. “It doesn’t matter how much I help, it doesn’t matter. It’s not the same as being on the field. As much as I have talked to them, it did help a little bit, but actions speak louder than words.”

The original prognosis after Copeland was hurt against the Montreal Alouettes on Aug. 14 was that he would be gone for at least six weeks. But the 33-year-old acknowledged he couldn’t help but cheat a bit as he toiled on the sideline.

“I didn’t pay attention to the doctors, and they know it, I told them,” Copeland said.

“I was not wearing my sling, I was trying to work it out as much as possible because I wanted to get back as fast as I could. It worked in my favour.”

Copeland led the CFL with 12 receiving touchdowns last year and was starting to get comfortable with quarterback Cleo Lemon when was injured. Barker will wait until he hears the final word on Friday from the medical staff before he declares officially that Copeland will suit up against the Bombers, but Barker knows better than anyone what detriment Copeland’s absence has been.

One man does not a team make, yet it’s not a coincidence that the Argos have not won with Copeland in civvies.

“We never use injuries as an excuse, but we have not played as well since Jeremaine went down,” Barker said. “Having him in the huddle … (he’s) a guy who is the glue. I don’t want to jump the gun (on his return), but he brings so much to the entire offence.”

Barker, meanwhile, acknowledged that as running back Cory Boyd is out with a concussion, it will be rushing by committee on Sunday, with Andre Durie, Jeff Johnson and Bryan Crawford all carrying the football. Newcomer Anthony Alridge might work into the mix. Offensive lineman Chris Van Zeyl could return from a back injury, and Calvin Armstrong on the line might see some reps as well.

“Any time you have a key component (Boyd) out, it will affect your offence, and it is unsettling,” Barker said. “(But) Jeff is a guy who, every time he gets an opportunity to be the running back, does a great job. We’re fortunate to have him and Crawford and Durie here.”


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