Agree to disagree

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:24 AM ET

Ricky Ray looks and sounds like a quarterback who will start for the Edmonton Eskimos tomorrow.

While head coach Danny Maciocia is only listing his star player as "probable" for the game, Ray says he will be on the field against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Commonwealth Stadium. (5 p.m., CHED, TSN)

"I am starting (this weekend). I am playing until I can't play anymore," said Ray.

"I am good to go, just like any other week."

AT ODDS

It is certainly an interesting storyline to follow right now because the head coach and the CFL's top pivot aren't exactly saying the same thing.

The media circus around Ray started yesterday afternoon after Sun Media reported that Maciocia couldn't confirm Ray as his starter after Wednesday's practice.

Six TV cameras and twice that many reporters attended yesterday's media availability looking for more on the story.

Ray has taken reps with the first-team offence for back-to-back days in practice and seems to be throwing the ball with the same zip and accuracy.

But that hasn't been enough for Maciocia to give him the green light in public to start against the hapless Tiger-Cats.

"He is just sore," said Maciocia on the $450,000-a-year quarterback.

"He took a few shots in (last Friday's) game. Ran in for a touchdown. They fell on him.

"If it is solely up to Ricky, he is clearly playing.

"But ultimately we will sit down and we will do what is best - first for the club, secondly for Ricky Ray in that order."

And that is one of the interesting parts of this story.

Will Maciocia put Ray on the field against arguably the worst team in the league or give him 14 days between starts before playing him Sept. 21 in Montreal?

There is no doubt about Ray's vote in this situation.

"How about you take a day off and we will bring another interviewer in," shot Ray to a reporter, trying to prove he wants to play this weekend.

"You are going to come here. You are going to show up to work and do your job. That is my role - to be the starter on this team until I am not anymore.

"My job is to line up Saturday and play hard."

Maciocia is still refusing to tip his hand on who would replace Ray if he elects to sit his starter tomorrow.

However, Jason Maas would appear to have a much greater knowledge of Hamilton's personnel after playing there compared to Stefan LeFors.

If Ray starts - which would seem to be the betting choice based on the last two practice sessions - he will surely be urged by the coaching staff to get the ball away quick while in the pocket.

Calgary registered five sacks against Ray last Friday, including two on the first two Edmonton offensive plays.

GET RID OF IT

"I think it goes beyond blocking," said Maciocia. "There may have been a couple of breakdowns up front but there is also times when you are holding onto the football and some of that pain is self-inflicted.

"You got to know where to go with the football. You are not going to be able to hold people to six or seven seconds back there as you are trying to scan the football field."

Ray has attempted 361 of Edmonton's 365 passes through 10 games this season. LeFors is the only other pivot to have thrown a ball in a regular-season game to date.


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