TORONTO – While most Canadians are either relaxing at home or vacationing somewhere on Canada Day, this is not the case for players in CFL. Given that the season begins at the end of June, Canada Day long weekend is often just another work day for a professional football player in the CFL. And that suits Mississauga native Andre Durie just fine.
“I like to keeps things simple. If I’m not relaxing with my family I’d just be training anyway,” commented Durie following a recent Argonauts’ practice. “Right now I’m living in the gym.”
2014 was a frustrating year for the nine-year pro. After coming off a stellar 2013 season that saw the Argos’ starting slotback accumulate 936 yards on 92 receptions, his 2014 campaign was cut short due to injuries, suffering a broken clavicle in Week Two and subsequently re-injuring his clavicle bone nine weeks later.
In the off-season, Durie kept his workout regimen as simple as possible, not wanting to change much given his history of success in the league despite his injured shoulder.
“Basically, I just focused on strength, strength and more strength,” said Durie. “I needed to make sure I could take a hit and withstand the punishment.”
Beyond his own physical recovery, Durie also listened all off-season while so-called “experts” continuously spoke as to how Toronto was going to deal with: 1) the loss of their starting quarterback Ricky Ray – currently on the team’s six-game injured list – and 2) the influx of rookie receivers.
“There was so much talk about Trevor Harris and how he would do, but everyone forgot that he’s been with the team for four years and is very familiar with the playbook and what we do on offence.”
After one game, Durie’s off-season hard work paid off and the questions were answered. The national slotback caught seven passes for 63 yards. Trevor Harris, meanwhile, completed 24 of his 27 pass attempts for 347 yards and was named the CFL Player of the Week.
“As a team, we were all so happy for Trevor,” stated Durie. “Not just that we won and he played well but that he wasn’t hesitant at all. He didn’t ease his way into the game. Instead, he played like a 10-year pro.”
As for the receivers, Tori Gurley and Vidal Hazelton each contributed one touchdown while Kevin Elliott caught three passes for 77 yards. Not too shabby from Durie’s perspective.
“These guys are new to the CFL but not new to football. For them it’s just been about getting acclimated to the system and learning the playbook,” said Durie. “Once they do that their talent will take over and the team overall will benefit from that.”
An acclimation process Durie will help expedite should he be called upon.
“We don’t have a lot of rah-rah guys on this team,” commented Durie. “Myself, I just set the example of what needs to be done. Like any player with a little bit of success comes more and more confidence. You see that already as the guys are really working hard to figure things out on their own.”
As a key veteran on the team, Durie knows week-to-week you can’t reflect too long on what you may have done last week.
“We go over game film, and see what we did right and work on what went wrong, but in my mind I’ve moved on from Edmonton and now I’m now focused on Saskatchewan.”
That can’t be good news for Ridernation, but great news for the good ship Argo.
Written By: Anthony Ciardulli