Injury concern for Eskimo quarterback

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:15 AM ET

The score is pretty much irrelevant.

Starting quarterback Ricky Ray -- who carries the Edmonton Eskimos' playoff hopes on his throwing shoulder -- is once again in the injury spotlight after being drilled with a late hit last night in the final exhibition game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

But the initial reports indicate Ray didn't suffer a serious injury in the second quarter hit from Dek Bake. Instead, club officials described it as a "burner" in his neck.

In fact, head coach Danny Maciocia said at halftime that Ray could have returned if the coaching staff wanted to go in that direction.

But in a game that meant nothing in the standings and the regular-season opener in Regina set for June 28, there was no point in bringing Ray back into the tilt in front of 33,508 at Commonwealth Stadium.

Edmonton rolled to a 37-7 victory against a young Roughrider team that left 12 starters off the roster. The Esks put up a stunning 476 yards of total offence while Saskatchewan mustered less than 180 yards.

But the most memorable sight of the evening was Ray lying on the ground near the Edmonton 30-yard line with 6:22 left in the second quarter.

In his first game after separating his throwing shoulder on Sept. 28 last year against the Toronto Argos on the same Commonwealth Stadium field, Ray was holding his arms very still once Bake had hammered him while already laying on the grass.

"The first thing I related to was the (previously separated) shoulder," said Eskimos president Rick LeLacheur while visiting the press box after the Bake hit that garnered a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty.

"One (Rider) was pulling (Ray's) helmet back and one hit him."

The injury overshadowed a great relief effort by Jason Maas, who came off the bench with Edmonton leading 17-2 and completed seven straight passes.

Maas played into the fourth quarter and finished with 256 yards on 16 completions in 19 attempts.

Making his return to Commonwealth Stadium for the first time since the 2005 season, Maas found Fred Stamps for a 51-yard touchdown pass with 3:35 left in the first half.

Cementing his spot as the Esks' second-string pivot ahead of Stefan LeFors, Maas engineered a seven-play 61-yard drive to end the second quarter that led to Noel Prefontaine to hit a 32-yard field goal to make it 27-2 to end the half.

It put the cap on a productive first half for the Green and Gold, as Ray helped build 10-0 lead on a Prefontaine field goal (26 yards) and a shovel-pass touchdown to Damien Anderson.

Tristan Jackson then guaranteed himself a spot on the Edmonton roster when he notched his third special teams touchdown of the spring when he scampered 72 yards on a punt return.

This comes on the heels of a punt return for a major in the controlled scrimmage in Spruce Grove and a 92-yard kickoff return for a major in Calgary last Friday.

The Riders failed to score a touchdown last night and received four of their points courtesy of Edmonton safeties.

Eskimo rookie Derek Schiavone chipped in with three second-half field goals, making a case to be kept over former first-round pick Warren Kean as the No. 2 kicker.


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