Maybe this time for Argo

Steven Turner, doing sprints at the recent Argos free-agent tryout camp in Florida, is looking to...

Steven Turner, doing sprints at the recent Argos free-agent tryout camp in Florida, is looking to bounce back from a torn Achilles heel injury that cost him all of last season. (PHELAN EBENHACK/QMI Agency)

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:39 AM ET

TORONTO - Steven Turner has turned heads before and he plans on doing it again.

A ruptured Achilles tendon may have cost him an entire year of his professional football life, but he’s back now, 100% healthy again and prepared to pick up where his life left off.

There was plenty of buzz surrounding Turner, nicknamed “The Afterburner” this time last year. Turner had wowed them at the CFL Evaluation camp smashing the old mark for the 40-yard dash with a time of 4.31 seconds.

The Argos snapped him up in the fourth round of the draft and everything appeared to be moving along as expected until a simple cut on an ordinary passing play ruptured the Achilles and put his career on hold for the better part of a year.

More than 10 months of rehab has him back on the field vying for the job he had hoped to snare this time last year.

In Florida at an Argos free-agent camp in April, Turner showed the coaching staff he was ready to come back and start contributing.

But all that earned him was a spot in training camp. He’ll have to show more throughout this camp to earn a spot on the 46-man roster when camp breaks.

And Jim Barker, as impressed as he has been by Turner’s return from injury, isn’t about to cut the Brampton native and former Bishops standout any slack.

Primarily a running back at Bishops, Turner hasn’t had a whole lot of repetitions catching the football so that sure-handedness isn’t quite there. When Turner does drop one, Barker lets him know how unacceptable that is.

“I’m not going to lie,” Turner said. “My hands might have got a little bit rusty over time, but I’m working it. I’m out here working the Juggs machine every day. I’ll keep practising until I don’t drop those balls. Coaches get on me, but that’s part of the game. That is their job.”

Barker points out the dropsies Turner is experiencing really don’t have anything at all to do with the injury he sustained a year ago.

“People forget he was a running back at Bishops,” the Argos head coach and general manager said. “He wasn’t a receiver and it takes time to develop that. He couldn’t do that last year because he was injured so that’s why you expect him to drop the ball, because he’s learning to be a receiver.”

Barker doesn’t come across as being overly concerned about Turner’s hands.

“Right now he just tenses up. ‘Oh Barker is going to scream at me again if I don’t catch this.’ He’s got to just learn how to relax and use his hands. Cos (DeMatteo, Argos’ receivers coach) is working hard with him. Right now he just doesn’t catch the ball well enough and he knows that.”

As for any lingering effects from the injury, neither Barker nor Turner himself have seen any sign of any.

“To me it’s completely gone, but I guess it’s still there a little bit in a psychological kind of way, but I feel fine when I’m running plays and running my routes. It’s really more of an after-effect after it’s done, but during the activity I feel great,” Turner said. “I feel I haven’t lost a step. I still feel like I’m as fast as I was last year. If anyone wants to question that they can line up against me and we’ll see.”

Barker is just as adamant.

“I don’t think he has lost any quickness,” Barker said. “You worry about that change of direction but I don’t think that has even been a concern. When I watch him I don’t think he even had an Achilles (rupture).”

Turner’s blazing speed is the one commodity that has got him where he is today and he knows that. He is also well aware, thanks to countless reminders from so-called well wishers, that the injury he suffered has been known to end careers. Turner takes that all in and uses it for motivation.

“I’ve heard that but I feel like nothing can end someone’s career except themselves so I worked hard in the off-season. Everyone says it’s a possible career ender, but I guess I’m going to have to prove them wrong,” he said.


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