MISSISSAUGA, ONT (Argonauts.ca) – After missing last week, Cleo Lemon will be back under centre when the Argos host the Montreal Alouettes on Thursday evening.
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.