Ray should be ready for opener

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:52 AM ET

The hush that fell over the crowd at Commonwealth Stadium when Ricky Ray crumpled under Marcus Jones in the second quarter of Friday's 20-20 tie with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers has turned to a sigh of relief.

The Edmonton Eskimos pivot, who left the game with a hyper-extended right knee, was kept off the field during run and review and was re-examined by team medical staff yesterday, and it doesn't appear the injury will put Ray on the shelf beyond a few days.

Pending a visit to Dr. David Reid today or tomorrow, and a possible MRI, the initial post-game diagnosis hasn't changed - Ray won't play in the return match with the Blue Bombers in Winnipeg Thursday, but it's expected he'll be ready when the season opens against Ottawa June 24.

NO PRACTISING

"That's probably the worst thing about it. I'm not going to be able to practise for a little bit," said Ray, who was 9-for-12 for 115 yards when the clean hit by Jones put him out in his return to the Esks after a stint with the New York Jets of the NFL.

"Throughout camp, each day I was getting a little bit more comfortable with the game.

''That's going to be a little bit tough, but, hopefully, I can still get out there a little bit and throw and keep the arm loose."

Ray was chased down by Jones on a rollout just over four minutes into the second quarter.

He stayed down for several minutes, then spent some time at the bench before limping to the dressing room.

With Ray on ice, Khari Jones, Jason Maas and Jason Johnson will take most of the reps this week and split duties against the Bombers.

That'll put a kink in how Danny Maciocia sorts out who gets the starting job, who backs up and who totes the clipboard, but the coach will live with that - as long as a followup examination doesn't uncover further damage.

"A lot of teams would be comfortable with Khari Jones, Jason Maas and Jason Johnson," Maciocia said. "We've got some other guys here we're going to line up and play.

"That's why we did what we did during the off-season. Everybody is just one hit away from playing the backup, whether it's the quarterback, tailback or any other position. We're pretty fortunate because we did our homework during the off-season."

There was plenty of speculation Maas would start the season on the injured list after off-season shoulder surgery, but that went out the window Friday as he held for field-goal and point-after attempts.

Maas has been on a throw count since camp started, but he'll take some snaps in Winnipeg Thursday.

EXTRA DAYS OF REST

"I plan on playing quite a bit next week," said Maas, who actually tossed an incomplete pass on a botched point-after attempt Friday. "I get seven extra days of rest and preparation. That'll probably do me good. That's basically what I'm looking forward to.

"We'll have to see how Ricky feels this next coming week, but the guys who are here have to be ready. That's what you've got here - three professional guys behind Ricky and we're all going to be ready to play."

TOUGH NIGHT: Mike Bradley, who'll backup Ron McClendon, Reggie White or Elvis Joseph at tailback, had three carries for 17 yards Friday, but lamented his blown chance to shine after coughing up the pigskin on one of two pass receptions against the Bombers.

"I'm a big Mike Bradley fan," Maciocia said.

"He just struggled a bit and he felt bad after the game. No one is quitting on Mike Bradley. We expect him to go out next Thursday and do what he does best."

THE NUMBERS GAME: Maciocia must trim his roster to 50, excluding players with CIS eligibility, by 10 p.m. local time tomorrow, meaning there's 14 cuts to make between now and then. He's got to reach 40 players, including three quarterbacks and no more than 18 imports, by June 18.

"I'm going to be careful I don't rush into anything I'm going to regret down the line," said Maciocia, who dissected game film yesterday but didn't swing the roster axe, beyond releasing defensive back Maha Atogwe.


Videos

Photos