The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Professional athletes are often creatures of habit, and that’s helping Jamal Campbell deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Toronto Argonauts’ burly offensive lineman remains unsure exactly when he’ll be allowed to resume playing football. The CFL has postponed the start of training camps, which were scheduled to open next month, and said the regular season (slated to begin June 11) won’t kick off until early July, at the earliest.
That’s left Campbell and other CFL players with no shortage of questions this off-season. But the 26-year-old Toronto native said keeping a daily schedule has helped him deal with the circumstance of having to spend most of his time at home.
“Honestly, I’m just keeping a schedule, that’s the easiest way for me to do it,” Campbell said. “Just create a schedule and following that every week.”
The towering six-foot-six, 305-pound Campbell is entering his fifth season with Toronto after being selected in the third round, No. 22 overall, in the 2016 CFL draft out of York University. Campbell began 2019 as a backup but started the Argos’ final 11 regular-season contests before signing a three-year contract extension Feb. 3.
Like any off-season, Campbell’s daily schedule involves physical conditioning. But with the Argos’ facility and area gyms both closed due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, Campbell has had to become more open-minded about his training.
“I’m privileged enough to have some workout equipment so I’m able to still do my lifts at home,” Campbell said. “Obviously, it’s affected what I can do but at the end of the day you have make due with what you have.”
Traditionally, the off-season is a time for offensive linemen to get stronger by doing heavy squats, bench presses and deadlifts. Campbell has been unable to do that, instead focusing on increased reps as well as his mobility and footwork, two key elements for his position.
“If you don’t have the heaviest weight then you just do more reps and that’s what I’ve been doing,” he said. “We’re still professional athletes and we still have to prepare for the season even if we don’t know when it’s going to be.
“That (uncertainty) is the most challenging part because right now most guys are in the peak of their off-season and don’t know (what lies ahead). It’s a challenge but it’s just kind of the world we’re in right now and we’re going to get through it. We just have to stay prepared the best we can.”