MISSISSAUGA, Ont -- Like most professional athletes, Cory Boyd can think of few things more frustrating than watching his team from afar, especially when the bounces do not seem to be going their way.
The all-star running back from a year ago took to the practice field for the first time in over three weeks on Monday. He’s trying to inch further from the sidelines and closer to the Argos’ backfield to reclaim his spot as the club’s go-to threat on offence.
“Anytime you are on the sideline watching, and you are not with your teammates going to battle, it is frustrating,” Boyd said Monday following practice.
After picking up where he left off the 2010 season when he rushed for 100 yards and a touchdown in the 2011 season opener in Calgary, Boyd struggled mightily in Winnipeg in week 2 and it was later revealed that he had injured his knee on a third down play in the first half.
“It’s doing okay and it responded well today,” he said about the knee. “I just have to keep building. It probably took a little bit longer than I expected but it is what it is and I'm happy to be back on the field.”
Boyd split reps with his replacement, Chad Kackert, at practice on Monday. Despite his excitement to get back on the field, Argos GM & Head Coach Jim Barker hardly says the club’s player of the year from 2010 is a lock to start against Montreal on Thursday night.
“I wouldn't say that about (starting Cory),” Barker said when asked whether he will start Boyd at tailback or not. “He split time today with Chad and we will see how he feels after practice today and going into tomorrow. It was certainly nice to see him out there running the ball today.”
If Boyd does not suit up this week then he vowed to try and do his best to keep heads high around his teammates who are in the midst of a four-game losing streak and have not won since before he exited the lineup.
“I have to bring my joy back to this team. I've been down recently but I realized that I can keep spirits up off the field, and if I get a chance to play this week then I'm going to play my role on the field to try and get us back on track.”
Boyd will have one more chance to showcase the health of his knee as the Argos only have Tuesday to get a full workout in before hosting the Als on a short week.
For his part, Cleo Lemon will be back under centre when the Argos host the Montreal Alouettes on Thursday evening, after missing last week's game against the Edmonton Eskimos.
Lemon took the majority of the first team reps when he and his team returned to the practice field on Monday morning and is trying to put his rather unusual injury behind him.
“It’s a football game. It happened, I'm past it,” Lemon said on Monday. “I've never thought about it before, but I have to make sure I'm better prepared and that I have better awareness. I feel like if I do take what the defence gives me it’s ok to slide. I'm just going to focus on getting down, making the play and moving onto the next one. There's no need to be a hero.”
The second-year starter is referring to a play midway through the first quarter of the Argos’ home opener two weeks back where he absorbed a vicious hit from Winnipeg LB Joe Lobendahn while leaping head first to gain extra yardage. The hit left him on the ground in obvious discomfort and it was later revealed that he had suffered significant damage to his teeth including an exposed and seriously damaged nerve.
“It’s one of those things that if you slide on one play you’re okay, but if its second down and you need one yard for the first, there's no way I'm going slide. I'm going to go out and do everything I can to get the first down.”
After spending the majority of last week as a spectator, Lemon dressed but did not play in the Argos’ Friday night contest in Edmonton, paving the way for backup Dalton Bell. Monday was his first test to gauge where he was at, both mentally and physically, since the injury. Argos GM & Head Coach Jim Barker is please with the progress he has made.
“Cleo looked good out there,” Barker said. “It obviously depends on how he feels because whenever you get your tooth knocked out there are probably going to be some issues with your head. He was fuzzy last week and that is why there was no way I was going to send him out, but he looked good today.”
Prior to the injury, Lemon was playing arguably his best football of the season. He completed all five of his passes for 58 yards and led one touchdown drive, leaving no doubt in his coach’s mind as to who should get the start if he is healthy.
“He played the best quarter of football he has since he got here before he got hurt so why wouldn't I start him,” Barker revealed.