Play the name blame game

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:16 AM ET

Much like his counterpart tonight, Ricky Ray also has an alter ego that sometimes shows up on the football field.

Meet Rick. It rhymes with ick.

He appeared last week in the No. 15 jersey and threw three interceptions in an Edmonton Eskimos 54-14 blowout loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Luckily for the Eskimos, Rick hardly ever appears.

"I try not to have an alter ego, I try to be Ricky every game," said Ray yesterday in preparation for the Calgary Stampeders tonight at Commonwealth Stadium.

"Sometimes it doesn't work out and things don't go your way. We're human and we won't play a perfect game week in and week out.

"If your team is struggling or you're not on your game, you have to try the best you can to avoid those mistakes."

All week, the talk has been about Hank and Frank, the two sides of Stampeders quarterback Henry Burris.

According to Eskimos defensive end Rahim Abdullah, who played with Burris in Calgary for two seasons, Hank is the guy who showed up last week: a friendly chap who tries too hard and makes costly mistakes.

Frank is the one who turns into a monster and throws for multiple TD passes and a huge amount of yardage.

In the case of Ray, Ricky shows up more often than Rick, so the Stamps are preparing for the Eskimos quarterback's best tonight.

"He'll be Ricky," said Burris.

"A guy like Ricky will come out and play his heart out so we need to make sure we're on top of our game to keep him off the field."

Burris, who threw for more than 400 yards last week but committed four turnovers last week, hesitates to call Ray the best pivot in the CFL, but he admits an argument could be made for that.

"He's a winner. I always call him the Tom Brady of the CFL," Burris said.

"He's a consistent quarterback who goes out to make plays. He takes chances. I take my hat off to a guy like him. Year in and year out he goes out and gets results."

After last week's loss, Burris defended himself by pointing out that Ray leads the league in interceptions but doesn't face the same criticism he does. The reason for that is Ray has Grey Cup rings - two in his first three seasons - and is more consistent on a game-by-game basis than Burris.

But Ray can sympathize with the pressure Burris is under to perform because he feels the same thing. It's a quarterback thing.

"We're the highest-paid players on each team and we touch the ball every play," Ray said. "The negative is when things aren't going good you get a lot of attention. You have to be able to handle it."

In analyzing last week's outing for both teams, one could easily say if the QBs didn't turn the ball over, the outcome would be different.

Ray disagrees.

"People always say if the quarterback plays better, we'll be better," Ray said. "It's not that cut and dried. Everybody has a part in it. If the o-line plays well, if the receivers and running backs play well, we all play well.

"The QB get all the criticism but it's not all deserved."

So blame Rick or Hank and hope they stay home tonight.


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