September 11, 2008
Esks coy on QB's statusCoach won't tip hand on starter
By JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media
Is there cause for concern in Eskimoland?
Edmonton Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia will answer that question today when he gives an update on the health of quarterback Ricky Ray.
After being able to hide Ray's health status to start the week, the cat is out of the bag now.
When Ray left the practice field late yesterday afternoon, Maciocia was not able to declare the league's top player as his starting quarterback for Saturday's home game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
The good news for the Green and Gold is that Ray did look sharp throwing some balls yesterday.
But it wasn't enough for Maciocia to come out and give the CFL's top pivot a clean bill of health.
"If everything goes well with this workout - like the update I am going to get in a couple of hours as far as treatments are concerned - I say (Ray's) probable (for Saturday's game)," said Maciocia after yesterday's practice.
But Maciocia knows there is a chance that Ray's body might be too sore this morning to receive the starting nod heading into the final full practice this afternoon before Saturday's game at Commonwealth Stadium. (5 p.m. CHED, TSN).
A smart coach when it comes to not disclosing much about injuries, Maciocia is not going to come out and pin-point Ray's exact health problem.
When asked if his $450,000-a-year quarterback took one particularly bad hit in last Friday's game against Calgary, Maciocia responded: "I just think it is some stuff over the course of the season - you are running, you are sliding, you take a hit here and hit there. You are delivering the ball and you get hurried.
"He is just sore a little bit but nothing out of the ordinary."
Of course, something is a bit out of the ordinary because this is an issue right now.
Maciocia could definitely step in front of the media microphones this afternoon at his daily press briefing and declare Ray his likely starter for Saturday.
However, it should be noted that Jason Maas received more reps than usual in one drill in yesterday's practice.
When asked if Maas or Stefan LeFors would be his starter if Ray can't play this weekend, Maciocia wouldn't bite.
Ray was sacked on back-to-back plays to start last Friday's game against the Calgary Stampeders.
After one of those plays he held his head with both hands on the grass field for a moment before getting to his feet.
The team medical staff also checked the pivot after the series.
Ray was not made available for an interview after yesterday's practice.
The starter for all 10 games this season, Ray leads the CFL in passing yards (3,317) and has 16 touchdown throws.
Considered one of the most durable pivots in the game, it would be a surprise to see Ray on the sidelines and not under centre come Saturday.