Ticat running back C.J. Gable has a personal catchphrase – “All Gas No Brakes” – that perfectly encapsulates his hard-nose approach to football. But he might be better served if he made just a slight modification to both the slogan and his mentality.
Unfortunately, “All Gas and Just A Little Tap of the Brakes Now and Then” doesn’t exactly have the same ring to it.
Gable will return to the line up this Friday against the B.C. Lions, making just his third start of the season and the first since suffering a dislocated elbow on Aug .3. It was the latest in a string of injuries to his leg, shoulder, finger and arm that have forced him to miss 25 of the past 27 Ticat games going back to last season.
“People keep telling me I should stop fighting for extra yards but I can’t, that how I run,” Gable said Wednesday. “My mindset is to run hard, not to run out of bounds or to shy away from a tackle.”
It is Gable’s inherent physicality, combined with his versatility, that has made him a favourite of head coach Kent Austin, who has stuck with Gable despite his frequent trips to the injured list.
“He’s a complete back, he’s excellent in protection, he can catch the ball out of the backfield, he’s got natural playmaking ability and he’s a strong runner,” Austin said. “He’s physical but he’s got enough finesse that he doesn’t have to just rely on his power game.”
Gable was the East Division Most Outstanding Rookie in 2013 when he started 18 of a possible 21 games, finished fourth in the CFL in rushing and put up more than 1,600 combined yards. Last season, however, he played in just seven games due to injury, then appeared in just two more so far this year.
This latest injury was perhaps the toughest of all for Gable. He was coming off his first start of the year in Saskatchewan, where he racked up 170 all-purpose yards in a 31-21 win. But against Toronto, Gable put his hand down to fight for extra yards only to have a Argo defender drive his knee into his exposed elbow.
The pain was immediate and intense, combined with dread of realizing that he was seriously hurt, again.
“Why does this keep happening to me?” Gable said. “I’m not the injury-prone person people think I am. All my injuries are freak accidents.”
Two-and-a-half months later, Gable is back to 100 per cent – or as close as he’s likely to get this year. Like receiver Andy Fantuz, who suffered the same injury in the same game, Gable will wear an elbow brace for the remainder of the season.
“I can do everything normally, catch, hold the ball, there’s nothing different,” Gable said. “I’ve got to make sure my mind’s right when I go out there and try not to think about it because once I do, I start hesitating and doing stuff I don’t normally do.”
And therein lies the problem for Gable: he needs to play the way he does, the way he always has, in order to be successful – even if that style leaves him vulnerable to injury.
All Gas No Brakes. There’s no stopping it now.