Argos wideout Andre Durie a suble difference-maker
By FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency
|Argonauts wide receiver Andre Durie hauls in a pass for a touchdown against the Blue Bombers at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ont., Oct. 19, 2012. (FRED THORNHILL/Reuters)
TORONTO - Andre Durie didn’t break any records, didn’t earn any all-star accolades and isn’t in the running for any league awards.
That day of recognition will come, it’s an inevitability, provided he is able to stay healthy and play a full season.
For now, Durie looms simply as a key offensive weapon for the Argos as they prepare for Sunday’s Eastern semifinal against the Edmonton Eskimos.
When it comes to Durie, you can make a pretty compelling case that the York University product is as close as indispensable as any player who lines up on offence, outside of quarterback Ricky Ray.
In the world of imports and non-imports, there is no one in Durie’s class.
Mike Bradwell has shown an ability to fill in, but he’s not going to break tacklers in space or make plays down the field.
Spencer Watt has the speed to go deep, but his route-running remains a work in progress and he can’t be used in the backfield.
Had it not been for various injuries, setbacks that robbed Durie of appearing in four games, he would have produced a 1,000-yard season.
The beauty of Durie is his versatility, a skill set that makes him a dangerous weapon if used properly.
He’ll line up in the backfield, play the slot, go in motion, go deep, run underneath routes, do just about anything in any down and distance.
And when the ball is in his hands, Durie will make plays.
Until Chad Owens eliminates his penchant for putting the ball on the turf, he’ll remain this high-risk, high-reward receiver.
What makes Owens so unique is his fearlessness and toughness.
As Edmonton gets ready to come to town, the Eskimos are fully aware of what Durie will bring to the table and the potential gains he’s more than capable of producing.
At no point during this inconsistent season have the Argos looked this confident, especially on offence.
A lot has to do with Ray, who is throwing the ball in such rhythm that a receiver doesn’t even have to be open for a play to be made.
Friday will mark Day 3 for the Argos in their buildup for Sunday, the third practice day at the Rogers Centre, where the tempo has been fast, where Ray has been delivering the football with ease and precision.
For Durie, he’s approaching Sunday as any other game, only it’s not any other game given how they’ll be no more games if the Argos lose.
By practising at the dome, Durie has been able to adapt much quicker to the surface.
“It just feels great,’’ he said. “This turf is pretty quick. It’s low-cut and there’s a lot of seed, which gives you more traction, allowing you to cut and get out of your breaks much better.
“Maybe being at home adds a little pep in your step, as well.”
Home field may ultimately decide Sunday’s winner, but Durie’s ability to make plays will also be factor.
Edmonton beat the Argos twice during the regular season, but the Argos are a much superior offensive team heading into the playoffs.
“When you look at Edmonton’s defence, you see a great tackling team,’’ added Durie. “Their front line is very good.
“We have to be prepared to face one of the best defences in the league and that’s how we’ve been approaching our practices. It’s why we come out here and practise fast and finish after catching the ball. We know what we’re up against.”
And no doubt, the Esks are aware of their opponent, and of Ray.
“We’ve got all our receivers healthy,” Durie said. “Everybody is in sync and on point. Injuries have held us back, which forced a shuffling in the receiving core.
“Ricky now reads and understands what’s going and the results speak for themselves.”