Frito Ray a happy camper in Edmonton

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 10:52 AM ET

EDMONTON -- Ricky Ray's head has stopped spinning, and now he's back making CFL defensive backs dizzy.

The Edmonton Eskimos quarterback, who joined the NFL's New York Jets last season as their part-time third-stringer, is back in the Great White North, and he's passing with the same precision as he did in 2002 and 2003 with the Green and Gold.

Going into last night's game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Ray had completed 84 of 128 passes for 1,086 yards and six touchdowns while serving up three interceptions.

It's almost as if he never left.

"It was pretty easy," Ray said of the transition back to the three-down game. "It just took a few weeks in camp to get used to everything again, and I'm still trying to get better every week.

"I hope throughout my career I can get a little bit better every year, and I think there's still a lot to learn from this league."

The man who led the Eskimos to the 2003 Grey Cup title is just glad to be on the field, considering he did a lot of watching during his time with the Jets.

"It's great being back, having a chance to be out there playing and feel like you're doing something," said the 25-year-old from Happy Camp, Calif. "You can't replace that. Sitting on the bench isn't a lot of fun, and you can ask anybody that.

"It just feels great to be able to be back up here playing."

Ray soaked up as much knowledge as he could during his tenure in the Big Apple. He watched how the great players prepare for games and how teams plan during the week.

Having Ron Lancaster Jr. waiting for him as Edmonton's new offensive co-ordinator and quarterbacks coach was another bonus.

"He's been a great addition," said Ray, who is making a reported $460,000 per season. "Me and the other quarterbacks really enjoy having him. He's like our own coach.

"He's a guy that's really detailed, so he's gonna give us a lot of details throughout the week which really help out."

Another reward for coming back to Edmonton? The pace of life slows down a tad.

"Manhattan's such a big, crazy city, and there's so much stuff going on," Ray said. "Whereas here it's still a big city, but it's still that small-town feel, and everybody's not in a rush.

"We've got some great fans and great support of the Eskimos here, and it's awesome to be able to play here."

DAMAGE CONTROL: Bombers GM Brendan Taman was at Commonwealth Stadium last night, which is rare considering he hardly ever travels with the team.

Don't read anything into it, however; Bombers president and CEO Lyle Bauer wants to have either Taman or himself on the road with the team to troubleshoot any problems.


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