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Clavicle injuries taught veteran Argos slotback Durie painful lesson

03/04/2015 05:54 EST | Updated 05/04/2015 05:59 EDT
TORONTO - Andre Durie is an athlete again.

The Toronto Argonauts veteran slotback is back training after enduring an injury-plagued 2014 campaign. The 33-year-old Mississauga, Ont., native twice broke his right clavicle, limiting him to just 19 catches for 214 yards and a TD after recording career highs in receptions (92) and yards (986) the year before.

The five-foot-10, 199-pound Durie received medical clearance in January and has experienced no setbacks.

"The bone is fully healed now, I'm back to being an athlete again and it's awesome," Durie said Wednesday during a telephone interview. "Being an athlete you want to be out there playing and being sidelined against your will sucks so it's good to be back.

"I feel I'm ahead of the game because I've had so much time off. I feel ready to go. The lungs are good, legs are good, just feeling great right now."

Durie first broke his clavicle July 5 versus Saskatchewan, required surgery and missed seven games before returning Sept. 13. He played in two more contests before breaking the clavicle again — in a different area — diving for a pass during practice, ending his season.

"I'm always pushing myself to the limit and I think I pushed it too much," Durie said. "You can't really push the healing of a bone but I think I did and came back a bit too early, had a freak accident where I fell and broke it again.

"The lesson I learned, and it's a good one for other athletes out there, is to take time coming back and make sure you're fully healthy because it could set you back even longer than you anticipated."

And understand even pro athletes aren't superhuman.

"We like to think so, sometimes," Durie said with a chuckle.

Overcoming adversity is nothing new to Durie. In 2005, he suffered a horrific leg injury playing with the York Lions that not only threatened his football career but had many questioning whether he’d walk normally again.

However, Durie said being able to successfully coming back from the leg injury — he's entering his ninth CFL season, all with Toronto — probably contributed to him missing most of last season.

"Knowing I've been through worse, I thought I could maybe push through this . . . and I ended up breaking it again," Durie said. "It was a wakeup call to take things day by day, make sure you're fully healthy before you come back.

"It's not how fast you come back but how healthy you are when you do."

This off-season, Durie is back training with teammate Chad Owens, who moved his family from Hawaii to Toronto full-time earlier this winter. Durie and Owens have long been close friends and in 2012 their families lived together.

"It's refreshing," Durie said. "Back in 2012 we motivated and pushed each other and it's reminiscent of that a little bit.

"He's a hard worker so being around him you just feed off it. If we see stuff that needs correcting we'll point it out, we both take constructive criticism very well."

Durie feels he has nothing to prove to himself this season but admits missing most of the '14 campaign because of injury tested his resolve.

"I feel it really did test my love for the game because I'm older now and sometimes you get to an age where you start questioning things," he said. "Do you want to play? Do you want to keep going?

"Every bone in my body wanted to fight through this and play again. I knew I wasn't done yet and would come back stronger than ever.

"You only have so long to play this game and missing a year takes a lot out of you and your soul. I just want to win. It's being out there and playing with the guys and finishing a full season. Maybe that's the goal, to finish a full season, be healthy and come out having fun and loving this game like I always have."

NOTES — A CFL source says offensive lineman Tyson Pencer, 26, taken third overall in the 2012 CFL draft by Winnipeg, has signed with Edmonton. The Bombers released the six-foot-eight, 330-pound Pencer last June . . . ESPN reports former CFLer Phillip Hunt is close to signing with the Detroit Lions. The six-foot, 248-pound linebacker recorded 16 tackles over three seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. Hunt, 29, didn't play last season after being released by the Indianapolis Colts in training camp. He played for Winnipeg in 2009-10.

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