Maas puts health first

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:24 AM ET

Jason Maas is more concerned about his health than Ricky Ray.

Maas, the starting quarterback for the Edmonton Eskimos last season, is not medically cleared to play football following off-season surgery on his throwing shoulder. He attended but did not compete in the Damon Allen Quarterback Challenge in support of the Kids Help Phone yesterday at York University.

"I'm still throwing and stuff, but I fear coming out here and trying to pump it up," Maas said.

Winnipeg's Spergon Wynn took the competition winning two of four events. Teammate Kevin Glenn and Saskatchewan's Nealon Greene each won one event. Greene won the longest throw, heaving it 73 yards.

With two weeks to go before training camp, Maas figured he's close to 75% fully recovered in his rehabilitation.

"I'll progressively get it better," he said. "I'll be close during camp. I'll be able to make all the throws, just not with the same velocity that I normally do. It's going to take some time, but I'll be alright."

Maas is aware that Ricky Ray, who replaced him as the Eskimos' starter midway through the 2002 season and all the way through 2003, is considering a return to the Canadian Football League after a season in the National Football League with the New York Jets. The Eskimos attempted unsuccessfully to sign Ray to a long-term deal in 2003, offering him about $300,000 a season, but he wanted to try the NFL.

Ray asked for his release earlier this month, realizing he didn't have a realistic chance to play with the Jets and is now surveying the football landscape. The Eskimos, along with the Argos, are believed to be the two teams in the CFL that will make him the best offer, and Edmonton offers familiarity.

"It's a good fit for him, but financially whether Edmonton comes up with as good an offer, it's hard to say," Maas said.

He and his agent reportedly are looking for an offer similar to B.C.'s Dave Dickenson, who is the highest-paid player in the league at roughly $450,000 a season. If Ray signs with Edmonton it impacts Maas, notwithstanding how well his shoulder holds up.

"If they're going to pay him what's reported, it's hard to sit a guy like that on the bench," Maas said. "I'll have to deal with it, but until then I'm just worried about getting ready for camp and getting healthy. If I have to compete, I have to compete. It will be up to Edmonton whether I do that or not."

Rumours persist that if the Eskimos sign Ray, they will trade Maas, likely East to either Hamilton or Toronto.

NO WORRIES

Hamilton starting quarterback Danny McManus isn't too concerned about the Tiger-Cats' pursuit of other pivots.

"The only thing you can control is what happens on the field," McManus said.

They made a pitch for Doug Flutie, who signed with the New England Patriots, and are interested in Ray, although sources indicate they have concerns about the cost.


Videos

Photos