Who's QB or not QB

Eskimos quarterback Ricky Ray winds up to toss the ball to quarterback Jason Maas during practice...

Eskimos quarterback Ricky Ray winds up to toss the ball to quarterback Jason Maas during practice Monday, June 20, 2005 in Edmonton. (Edmonton Sun/Darryl Dyck)

GERRY PRINCE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:39 AM ET

Ricky Ray isn't a fan of the two-quarterback system. Neither is Jason Maas.

Nor is Danny Maciocia, which is why the rookie Edmonton Eskimos head coach is torn over which pivot to start in Friday's home opener versus the Ottawa Renegades.

Adding to Maciocia's dilemma is that Maas is learning to cope with a surgically repaired throwing shoulder and Ray has a brace protecting his hyperextended right knee.

"They're both going to be ready for Friday," vowed Maciocia. "When Friday rolls around, we'll find out who starts. For now, they're both healthy enough to practise and play come next Friday."

Maciocia says he'll make no formal announcement regarding which pivot will be behind centre when the Esks open their season.

"I don't think I have to wait until Friday to figure it out," said the head coach. "I'll probably know in the middle of the week, based on how they do out there.

"They're gonna get their treatments along the way and, hopefully, that'll give me a true indication of who is going to line up. But that decision will be rendered on Friday."

Given Ray represents a significant investment, provided he's good to go, look for the 25-year-old to be the man out of the gate. If not, it'll be Maas by default.

WON'T JUGGLE QUARTERBACKS

Maciocia is on record as saying he won't juggle his quarterbacks. According to Maciocia, the Esks' starter will be given ample time to play himself out of the job.

And that's just fine by Ray and Maas.

"The bottom line is you've got to have one guy out there and have the full confidence of the coaching staff and the team that that guy can get the job done," Ray said.

"Quarterbacks aren't going to play perfect every game. You're going to have your times when you struggle. I'm not a big fan of the quick hook.

"If you name a guy, you have your full confidence in him. If he's playing bad for two or three games, I can see making a change. As far as a game-to-game quarterback rotation, I'm not a big believer in that."

Regardless of how the Esks' quarterbacking situation unfolds, Maas applauds Maciocia's approach. Should Ray get the nod, Maas won't sulk.

"It's really just a matter of him choosing a guy and sticking with a guy," Maas said. "You'd like to be the guy. If he does anoint you the starter, it's nice to know you're going to be the starter without having to look over your shoulder.

"Whether you have a couple of bad series or ever a bad game to two, you like to think you have confidence in yourself and you can right the ship.

MUST BE A PRO ABOUT IT

"It is hard when you're exchanging guys in series or games. That's something you've got to be professional bout. If it happens you've just got to deal with it."

After watching Ray and Maas split the reps down the middle during yesterday's practice, Maciocia was impressed with Ray's first full day at practice since before his injury June 10.

"The No. 1 objective was to come in and see how he works on his drop and try to get him to move out of the pocket," explained Maciocia.

"He looked quite comfortable. He looks normal running, but doesn't look too normal walking. You can ask him to sprint up and down the field and he looks good."

LATE HITS: Running back Ron McLendon has been shuffled to the one-game injured list, meaning newcomer Elvis Joseph and non-import Mike Bradley are the Esks tailbacks this week ... Sandy Annunziata and Kevin Lefsrud took turns anchoring the Esks' offensive line yesterday. With veteran right tackle Chris Morris on the one-game injured for the season opener, rookie Patrick Kabongo draws in. Moving Lefsrud into the guard spot and pushing Annunziata to centre will help shore up the right side of the line.


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