Armed and dangerous

Henry Burris is prone to loading up his cannon arm, just as he did Tuesday while delivering a pass...

Henry Burris is prone to loading up his cannon arm, just as he did Tuesday while delivering a pass during practice. (Sun Media/Darren Makowichuk)

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:58 AM ET

EDMONTON -- These two gunslingers might decide how the West will be won.

But there is a major difference in how Henry Burris and Ricky Ray fire a football in a CFL showdown.

Both will be their franchise leaders in terms of passing yardage. Both are Grey Cup MVPs. And both are the faces of their respective teams.

However, one has a rocket arm and throws high heat, while the other serves his passes up with all the punch of a pillow.

"Henry throws the ball HARD," said Calgary Stampeders receiver Nik Lewis about his pivot.

"Last week, he had some extra muscle into those. One I dropped -- it was a screamer. If you aren't in great position to catch the ball, you won't catch it. You have to go for it and see what happens.

"If I played with Ricky Ray, I would probably have 32 one-handed catches a year. Easy. Ricky throws a nice ball. He turned Kamau Incompleterson into a top name in this league. It is amazing what Ricky can do."

In a win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers last week, there were several Burris passes that whizzed by receivers, giving them no chance to make the catches.

That isn't to say Burris doesn't have his strengths, despite not being a great touch passer.

Over the years, the 34-year-old has improved his accuracy.

To prove this point, he will pass Doug Flutie for all-time franchise yardage with 239 yards tonight when the Stamps face the Edmonton Eskimos (7 p.m., TSN).

Ray has already taken over the franchise record for the Eskimos with his deft touch. Although some criticize him for not going deep enough, the 29-year-old can hit targets long and short.

The one area Ray excels when compared to Burris is in the shorter passes, where he feathers it to his teammates.

It's like being a kid and throwing toilet paper rolls in the backyard," Peterson said. "That's the way it feels. When he hits you with a deep ball, it just rests in your hands.

"It's the same thing with his golf ball. His approach shots always land soft, even if they are low running. Somehow they settle and nestle by the pin. It drives me nuts."

Stampeders receiver Ryan Thelwell, who returns from a one-game hiatus due to a hamstring injury, compares Ray to Dave Dickenson.

When Thelwell joined the Stamps from the Lions, where Dickenson was the starter, he was taken by surprise.

"The second day I got here ... I ran a slant, the ball went zing by me," Thelwell said. "You can hear the fffff sound. I turned to Nik and Cope, and they laughed, 'It's a big change from Dave to Hank.'

"Those are hard balls. There was a pass in practice yesterday ... about 18 yards. I came back to it, and it went right through my hands. It jammed my two fingers and took five minutes to get the feeling back. But I like catching balls from Henry. He doesn't put that extra bit on it every time, but sometimes it comes in handy."

When it comes to who has an advantage, neither group of receivers feels there is one. You still need to get open and hold onto the ball no matter the speed and weight.

If anything, changing up speeds now would just throw them off.

"It's not something Henry can change," said Peterson, who hasn't played with Burris but has tossed around the pigskin at the quarterback's charity weekend.

"It's not that Henry can just start three-quarter-throwing everything. It's who you are as a player. Henry can make throws from one corner to another, and not a lot of guys can do that."

Peterson has played with both style of throwers and doesn't have a preference.

"When I was in Green Bay, Brett Favre dislocated my finger three or four times," Peterson said. "When I went to New York, Chad Pennington not so much. You need to catch them all."

IAN.BUSBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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