Ray set to start

Will Ricky Ray, left, or Jason Maas start behind centre tonight? Don't expect a straight answer....

Will Ricky Ray, left, or Jason Maas start behind centre tonight? Don't expect a straight answer. (Edmonton Sun/Darryl Dyck)

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:39 AM ET

Jason Maas wouldn't say that he knew.

Ricky Ray said he wasn't sure if he knew.

Then, when it was time for Danny Maciocia's version of who his starting quarterback will be in the Edmonton Eskimos' season-opener against the Ottawa Renegades tonight, the intrigue continued.

Maciocia said he knows who his pivot will be -- so do Maas and Ray -- but didn't see the need to say it will be No. 15.

So it went yesterday at Commonwealth Stadium as media swarmed Maas, then Ray and, finally, Maciocia, seeking a definitive answer. It's an answer that finally came, we think, by sifting through the, ahem, fibs ... and piecing together the words of all three -- who never did get their stories straight. Not that they tried very hard to do so.

Ray is healthy. He'll start.

"No, I can't," Maciocia said, when asked to name the starter for his debut as head coach of the Esks. "Basically, you're going to have to wait until after the pre-game warm-up."

Maas, 29, who is close to being fully recovered from surgery in December to repair two tears in the labrum of his right shoulder, wasn't giving anything up when the cameras and notepads descended. Maas called an audible at the line, opting for a little misdirection.

CAN'T SAY ANYTHING

"We can't say anything because we don't know," said Maas, before reversing his field. "Whether we do know, we're not saying. I'm not going to comment at all. You guys will find out tomorrow. It's not going to be very hard to figure it out. That's the way it's going to be."

Ray, 25, who hyperextended his right knee in a 20-20 tie with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Esks' first pre-season game, has the knee braced and has looked better with each passing day. Ray expects to start if he's healthy enough to play, but said straight-faced that won't be decided until today. Call it a two-step drop and a quarterback sneak.

"No," said Ray, when asked if he's been told who will start. "Obviously, if I feel like I can go tomorrow, I'm going to tell Danny I can go. I still have another day to, hopefully, keep healing up.

"I'll go out in pre-game and, hopefully, it's feeling well. I'll tell Danny, 'Hey, I feel like playing,' and he'll make the decision."

Pardon? Maciocia scotched the version offered by Ray, insisting health isn't an issue for either of his quarterbacks.

"I know who we're playing. I know who is starting for this football team," said Maciocia. "I feel like, why do we have announce it today? They're both healthy. We can play either one."

And you've told Ray and Maas who'll start?

"I know they told you that I didn't, but I have," smiled Maciocia.

Uh, Ricky. Want to try this again?

"It's not like it's the Grey Cup tomorrow and we have nobody else to play quarterback and I've got to go in there and play," Ray said.

"Being the first game of the season and having some other quarterbacks who are really good, I definitely don't have to go out there and play hurt.

"I've been pretty happy with it. I feel like in practice I'm not thinking about it. I'm just out there reacting. I don't feel any pain. It feels stable. I feel like I can do most everything."

HELP US OUT

Help us out here, will you, Jason?

"I've prepared. We've prepared," said Maas. "I always prepare like I'm starting, whether I am or not.

"That's the way you have to be. I think I've been very successful coming off the bench because I'm prepared and I've been successful as a starter because I'm prepared."

There you have it. Or not.


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