It's the Ray forward!

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:53 AM ET

Dave Dickenson believes Ricky Ray's head coach did what he did this year with his quarterbacks to avoid what he has to deal with this week.

"I can't speak for Danny Maciocia but by playing Ricky all the way all year, he avoided this sort of thing," said Dickenson on the phone from Vancouver yesterday.

"I think Danny had situations where he should have put Jason Maas in there, but he avoided what we've been going through for two years here by doing things like he did."

Dickenson, selected by B.C. Lions head coach Wally Buono to start ahead of Casey Printers against Maciocia's Eskimos Sunday, said now Edmonton knows.

"It's not too much different than what you've got going on there now. It's tough. For an entire two seasons it's been tough. You always have one guy who is disappointed. It creates a lot of indecision on the team. If the receivers have questions they don't know which guy to ask."

Dickenson said what happened in the last game of the regular season against Saskatchewan was maybe the worst of it.

'LEANING TOWARD CASEY'

"I'd suited up in Edmonton when Casey started our last game over there. When we ended up losing, I thought there was a good chance to get back in the starting role in our last game. Wally started Casey, then put me in for 10 or 11 plays and then pulled me.

"I thought that maybe was showing Wally had gone the other way. To be pulled that fast, I thought maybe he was leaning toward Casey as the starter."

Buono admitted after the game that criticism in how he handled his quarterbacks in that game was justified. And neither quarterback argued with him.

"Casey felt like he shouldn't have been pulled. I felt like I shouldn't have been pulled.

"That was the worst, at least for me ... To tell you the truth, I never felt there was any doubt about my future in B.C. until last weekend.

"I think both Casey and myself realized that this was the last year we were both going to be on the same team and that's probably the same case with Ricky and Jason.

"For me, I want to finish my career here."

Last year, when Buono picked Dickenson ahead of Printers to play in the Grey Cup game, it was different than picking him to play ahead of Printers yesterday for the Western final. Last year Printers won the CFL Award for most outstanding player during Grey Cup week.

"You can't make a decision like this on anything other than trying to win a football game," said Buono, also returning a long distance call yesterday. "You can't let it be clouded by issues not relevant to the point at hand."

Buono said he made his decision on three days of practice during the Lions bye week, while Calgary and Edmonton were preparing to play in the semi-final last week.

"Those three days showed me Dave was physically able and mentally able.

"Dave has been our starting quarterback all year. He has done nothing to lose his job. He's done an outstanding job."

Dickenson played in 12 games this year and was the No. 1 rated quarterback in the league during the Lions' 11-0 run to start the season. He ended up completing 253 of 342 passes for a remarkable 74%. He threw 21 touchdowns against five interceptions. Printers saw action in eight games, completing 132 of 217 passes with nine touchdowns and six interceptions. Dickenson said both quarterbacks had trouble against the Eskimos this year.

'PHYSICAL DEFENCE'

"Neither one of us lit 'em up for anything," he said.

"The thing about Edmonton is that it's not so much schemes and things as that they just challenge you. It comes down to your guy being better than their guy.

"The secondary is physical and plays a lot of man to man. They hang their hat on being a physical defence. Our guy blocking Big Joe (Montford) has to win that battle. We have to win the one-on-one battles or you are going to come out on the short end."

Dickenson said being the Lions starter is one thing and being the finisher is another.

"If things are not going my way, it wouldn't surprise me (if they) go with the other guy."


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