TORONTO â€” S.J. Green’s road to recovery now goes through Toronto.
The Argonauts acquired the veteran receiver from the Montreal Alouettes on Thursday for a 2017 sixth-round pick and conditional 2018 selection. The six-foot-three, 216-pound Green registered 444 catches for 6,626 yards and 42 TDs over 10 seasons with the Als â€” winning two Grey Cups along the way â€” but missed most of last year after suffering a serious knee injury in a 28-13 loss to Ottawa on June 30.
“The knee is good, it’s coming along strong,” Green said in a telephone interview. “I’ve been able to do different workouts, I’ve been able to increase my workouts, do heavy lifting and my knee has been great.
“I’ve progressed to a point where my surgeon figures I’ll be ready for training camp and we’ll see how it goes from there.”
Videos posted on social media show Green, 31, running at full speed and making deft cuts with no noticeable difficulty on his routes.
“We are very comfortable with the progress S.J. has made rehabilitating his knee and according to his doctors he is on schedule to be ready for training camp,” Toronto GM Jim Popp said in a statement.
The move reunites Green with Popp and Toronto head coach Marc Trestman, who all were with Montreal when it won consecutive Grey Cups in 2009-10. Marcus Brady, a former Als assistant coach, is now the Argos’ offensive co-ordinator while current players such as defensive lineman Alan-Michael Cash, running back Brandon Whitaker and linebacker Winston Venable all played with Green in la belle province.
On Thursday, Toronto also reportedly signed veteran offensive lineman Jeff Perrett, who spent 10 years with Montreal before being released this off-season.
“There are a lot of guys I’ve played with in Montreal who I’m comfortable with,” Green said. “Fresh start, new city, new teammates, new beginning and it’s an opportunity to work with another Hall of Fame quarterback in Ricky Ray.
“I can’t wait to meet my teammates next week at IMG.”
Toronto will hold its mini-camp next week at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
Green wasn’t surprised by Thursday’s move. It came after he and new Alouettes GM Kavis Reed couldn’t agree on a restructured contract.
“It all boils down to one of two things: Either they want you or it’s money,” Green said. “Business is business and I understand that.
“I don’t have any hard feelings towards the Alouettes organization, Kavis, (owner) Bob Wetenhall or anybody over there. Bob and Jim Popp brought me to this league and I thank Bob for allowing me to wear his colours and represent his city for the last 10 years.”
Green joins a Toronto team that posted a 5-13 record in 2016 and was last in the East Division. GM Jim Barker was fired in January before head coach Scott Milanovich resigned to become the quarterbacks coach with the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars.
Upon being hired Trestman immediately named Ray his starter despite Toronto acquiring veteran Drew Willy from Winnipeg late last season. Ray, 37, enters his 15th CFL season and sixth with the Argos but has started just 11 games the last two years due to injury.
“When I first came into the league there were two, three guys who were considered to be elite: Henry Burris, Anthony Calvillo and Ricky Ray,” Green said. “All three are going to be Hall of Fame quarterbacks when it’s all said and done.
“That’s what I think of when I think if Ricky Ray. I’m looking forward to teaming up with him and working with him.”
When healthy, Green is one of the CFL’s best receivers. Not only is he quick and shifty, but Green is also physical enough to win one-on-one battles with defenders and make the difficult catch.
Five times he’s been named an East Division all-star and was a CFL all-star in 2013. Four times Green eclipsed the 1,000-yard plateau with Montreal and could combine with newcomer Jeff Fuller, a six-foot-four, 223-pound receiver entering his fifth season in Canada, to give the Argos a potent 1-2 receiving punch.
“I’m not coming here to be a saviour,” Green said. “I’m coming here to be S.J. Green and just that, I’m coming here to do my job.
“Every year we hope to get better and my off-season has been predicated on being back and being better than I was before. I’m focused on the recovery of my knee and producing at a very high level.”
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press