TORONTO – Toronto Argonauts non-import, veteran middle linebacker, Jason Pottinger (J-Po), has been dealing with multiple injuries over the course of the past couple CFL seasons. The 29-year old Whitby, Ontario native has been absent from fourteen regular season games during that span and he remains on the Argonauts’ injured list heading into week eight of this 2012 CFL season.
Jason is continuing to take his recovery “one step at a time”. However, he does admit that it has been very difficult for him to watch the action from the sidelines so far this season.
“It has been very difficult to stand by and watch. Football is my biggest passion in life and anyone can relate. Anyone who loves their job – envision that you cannot do your job and you will know how I feel (right now)”, said Pottinger following a recent Argonauts’ practice. Jason is currently not participating in full contact drills during practice. He continues to get treatment on his injured hamstring and hopes there is a possibility that he can return to the Argonauts’ lineup on August 27 when Toronto hosts the Edmonton Eskimos at the Rogers Centre.
Jason began last season as the Argonauts’ starting middle linebacker but unfortunately on Canada Day 2011 against the Calgary Stampeders he suffered a knee injury that doctors later diagnosed as a torn ACL. After suffering such a serious injury, it was expected that Jason would miss the entire 2011 season. However, just nine weeks following the most devastating injury of his career, Pottinger made an improbable return to the Argonauts’ starting lineup and played in the final eight games of the Argonauts’ 2011 campaign as the team’s starting middle linebacker. During this past off-season, Jason underwent a successful surgery to repair his torn ACL. In fact Jason agrees that he may have returned to the Argonauts’ lineup much sooner than anticipated in 2011.
“I came back prematurely. I came back before the surgery because I opted to have the surgery following the season and I don’t regret the choice but unfortunately it has affected my season this year and these are the consequences I’ve been facing (because of my decision)”, said Pottinger during a post practice interview.
Jason did participate in the Argonauts’ 2012 home opener in week two against the Calgary Stampeders. However, he did not start on defense and a majority of his time on the football field was spent on the Argonauts’ special teams units. He was unable to record a single tackle in the game.
Prior to beginning his Canadian Football League career, Jason attended McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario where he played four seasons for the Marauders football program from 2002-2005. In both 2004 and 2005, Jason was named the Most Outstanding Defensive Player in the OUA (Ontario University Athletics). He was also an OUA All-Star in each of his final three seasons at McMaster. Following his time at the University, Jason was drafted second overall in the 2006 CFL draft by the B.C. Lions.
J-Po spent three seasons with the Lions from 2006-2008 and had the pleasure of winning a Grey Cup title in his rookie season of 2006.
The Argonauts acquired Jason from the B.C. Lions on March 23, 2009 in exchange for a first round selection in the 2009 CFL draft along with a conditional draft pick in the 2010 Canadian Football League draft. Jason’s best statistical season with the Argonauts’ came in 2010 when he recorded a career best 71 tackles, 2 sacks, and a forced fumble. His 71 tackles in 2010 ranked tenth in the CFL and third on the team behind current Tiger-Cat, Kevin Eiben and retiree, Willie Pile.
Jay is used to having many small, nagging injuries over the course of a football season. However, he admits that he has never experienced anything that can compare to the past couple of seasons here in Toronto.
“I’ve had meniscus-knee cleanup which is a basic surgery. I’ve had my shoulder done but even that is not the same when it comes to playing football. Those are not detrimental injuries. This is really my first time having to face this kind of adversity”.
This past off-season, Jason signed a new two-year contract to remain with the Argonauts through the 2013 CFL season. Pottinger is currently not thinking too far ahead in his recovery process and everything he is doing is in the best interest of getting him back on the football field as soon as possible.
“I plan on just getting healthy and embracing any role that they give me. Whether it is special teams or spot-duty on defence, I am ready to take it on. I just want to get back and be a part of the action on the field”.
While it is still quite uncertain exactly when Jason will return to the lineup and what role he will have when he does return, a healthy Pottinger provides the Argonauts’ with depth on the defensive side of football as well as a proven and winning linebacker that can step back into the starting lineup at any moment and make an impact.
Jason is disappointed that he has been absent from one of the best defences in the CFL so far this season. The Argonauts’ defence currently ranks in the top third of sixteen different defensive categories including interceptions, fewest passes completed against, and fewest touchdowns allowed.
“It has been fun watching the guys play because they’ve been doing some good things out there. We’ve been winning some games and I like the direction the team is heading”, commented Pottinger.
Jay also took the time to single out and complement the stellar play of his replacement, Robert McCune. He is happy that his new teammate and fellow linebacker is having such great success in his first year with the Argonauts.
“McCune has done a really great job. He is a big, strong dude and he has great speed (for a linebacker). I’m learning stuff from him as well. I am also taking the opportunity to watch another linebacker add to my game”.
With the success McCune is currently having in the Argonauts’ defence, it will definitely be a challenge for Pottinger to retain the role as the Argos’ starting middle linebacker. McCune currently ranks ninth in the CFL in tackles with 30 and is anchoring one of the best defences in the CFL through six weeks of play in the Argonauts’ season.
It has without a doubt been a long and agonizing season thus far for Jason but it seems as though that might be changing as “J-Po” continues to inch closer to getting back on to a football field in an Argonauts’ uniform.
Jason Pottinger’s “Road to Recovery” is not quite complete but he believes that he has taken all the necessary steps in order to make a return to the Argonauts’ lineup and be just as effective as he was before his injury woes. “I plan on coming back and not skipping a beat but this is football and we will have to see”.
“I’ll have to give you more feedback on that afterwards”, joked Pottinger.
Argonauts’ fans can look on with plenty of optimism because as it stands now, it may be sooner rather than later that we will finally see Jason Pottinger back with the Double Blue and competing against the best that the CFL has to offer.
– Daniele Franceschi –