The Washington Times - December 4, 2012, 09:59AM

ANNAPOLIS – John Howell’s season ended Sept. 29.

However, the Navy slotback might just have one run left in him.

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The senior plans to dress for Saturday’s game against Army in Philadelphia and is optimistic about running onto the field before the game.

“I’m definitely dressing but the jogging out, I’m right on the line,” Howell said Monday. “It might have to be a game-time decision and say ‘Hey, guys, I’m going to do it anyway.’ Who’s going to stop me?”

Howell is two months removed from reconstructive surgery on his right knee has has no swelling and pain lingering from the operation. He spent 35 minutes on a bike Monday and said he probably couldn’t be in better shape at this stage.

Nonetheless, his absence was a tough loss for Navy, which was shut out after Howell departed early in a loss to San Jose State.

“He was one of our leaders,” coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “It was probably our worst game offensively. When he went down, it probably took more out of us than people realize. When you’re close like that, it hurts you to the core. It’s going to be exciting for us to see him out there.”

Howell, who had 60 yards rushing on six carries this season, remained a fixture at Navy’s practices after his injury. As much as he’s optimistic about making a final dash onto the field, he’s especially pleased at how the offense has improved as the Midshipmen (7-4) sit on the precipice of winning the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy.

“Everything’s clicking so well. It looks like what it did when I came in my sophomore year and my freshman year. It’s got real good rhythm and it’s back to fundamentals. We’re not turning the ball over as much. … There’s still some errors that we need to fix, but it definitely looks like it’s back to the old Navy football.”

Patrick Stevens