Jason, the Argo, won't give it up

Argos linebacker Jason Pottinger (right) practised Wednesday for the first time since suffering...

Argos linebacker Jason Pottinger (right) practised Wednesday for the first time since suffering what appeared to be a season-ending knee injury in Toronto's July 1 season opener. (JACK BOLAND/QMI Agency)

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:57 PM ET

TORONTO - Last we saw Jason Pottinger, he was receiving bad news on The Extra Yard, the documentary that TSN is filming on the 2011 Argonauts.

Pottinger, the Argos’ starting middle linebacker out of training camp, was walking to his car with the news that his season was done thanks to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, an injury he suffered in the season opener on July 1.

The doctor’s office segment was taped a few days after Pottinger fell to the turf in Calgary on Canada Day, and it aired last Thursday night.

On Wednesday, observers got a good idea of how Pottinger spent the past month since he was told that playing again this season was unlikely to happen.

There was Pottinger at practice at Erindale in Mississauga, wearing a large brace on his knee and participating in non-contact drills.

Season over? Not so fast.

“I’m just testing the waters right now, getting a sweat going, seeing how it feels,” Pottinger said. “That happens, where you think you will be out for the season, but you re-evaluate. I have had a month to strengthen it, and it feels good.

“There is no issue right now. From the split second before it happened, I thought I was going to come back.”

Pottinger wants to steer away from surgery, which is scheduled for Aug. 19. If all goes well in the next week, he will avoid it; if he goes under the knife, his season will be done. Pottinger said he has rejected the idea of surgery, but head coach and general manager Jim Barker said it remains a possibility.

For now, Pottinger is going to re-evaluate his condition on a daily basis. His decision to return to the field was made after a conference call with club doctors, the training staff and Barker.

“Like I told him, I am going to treat him like he is my son, and if I felt like it was something that was a threat to him, I would not let him do it,” Barker said. “At this point, we’re trying it. Playing football is a big difference from doing football drills.”

In the documentary, Pottinger made reference to being in his option year and having a plan. But he was adamant he is not rushing back, perhaps concerned that missing a full season could jeopardize his football future.

“My plan is to be a Toronto Argonaut for as long as possible,” Pottinger, 28, said. “I’m a Toronto boy and I want to continue playing in Toronto as long as the Argos want me.

“I’m not worried (about his future) at all. I feel like the coaches are 100% confident in what I can do. I have no worry in my mind.”

The Argos are a club that has lost five consecutive games since beating the Stampeders more than a month ago and head into the Aug. 13 Classic against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in danger of watching the season continue to slip away. But the mounting losses, Pottinger said, did not spur him back either.

“It’s nothing other than how I feel,” Pottinger said. “It’s a testament of I feel like I can play, I know I can play, so I am going to play. It has nothing to do with trying to prove anything.”

There’s no certainty that Pottinger will return, but if it happens, he’s probably looking at some time in September. His presence in uniform and helmet went a long way with his teammates on Wednesday.

“That’s amazing,” quarterback Cleo Lemon said. “It just shows his dedication and his heart, and what this team means to him. He is a big part of this team, as far as defence and special teams go, he brings a lot. Just to see how important it is to him makes everybody pick their level of play up.”

terry.koshan@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/koshtorontosun


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