Familiar foes for Eskimo's Armstrong

Edmonton Eskimos running back Calvin McCarthy jumps over B.C. Lions Korey Banks during their game...

Edmonton Eskimos running back Calvin McCarthy jumps over B.C. Lions Korey Banks during their game at Commonwealth Stadium July 4. The two teams clash again Saturday at Empire Stadium in Vancouver

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:14 AM ET

EDMONTON - VANCOUVER — If Fred Stamps and Kelly Campbell weren’t enough — and they haven’t been — Ricky Ray will have a new target Saturday.

Derick Armstrong donned the Green and Gold for the first time this week, just in time to face his former club, the B.C. Lions.

“He got released earlier in the season and now it’s just a good opportunity for him to get another chance this year,” Ray said of Armstrong, a former CFL all-star and 1,000-yard receiver. “And for us, we’ve had so many injuries on offence, including the receiver position, we’ve had to have a lot of guys fill in.

“It’s nice to have a good, experienced veteran come in and help us out.”

That experience has allowed Armstrong to start Saturday despite having just one full practice with his new club.

“I threw a couple routes to him, one long route and one short route, so it was nice to kind of get both,” Ray said. “It’s just about trying to get used to his body language out there. The biggest thing when you’re working with somebody new is to see how they run routes, how they react and it just helps you with your accuracy.”

But Ray isn’t concerned with the lack of preparation time.

“When you bring a guy up from down south, you tell him that you don’t have to be on the ball, you get to run towards the line of scrimmage. You’ve got to start with the first step there,” he said. “But with him, he knows all that, so now it’s just about here’s your route and just let him go with it.”

Armstrong said he already knew what he was getting in Ray anyway.

“I’m playing with a great quarterback in Ricky Ray,” Armstrong said. “He’s a guy who knows how to win, knows how to make correct throws and has a great percentage in passing. So it’s just a great opportunity to play with a guy of his calibre”

And so far, the Eskimos like what they see.

“The little that I watched him, he looked very comfortable out there,” said Eskimos head coach Richie Hall. “He lined up in more positions than I thought he would, but he’s very familiar with what we’re doing because he was with Doug Berry in Winnipeg and Kevin Strasser in Montreal.

“I think any person who has been out for an extended period of time is not going to be in top game shape but it’s not like he’s out of shape where he hasn’t gone to a training camp or done anything over the last four or five months.”

But Armstrong has hardly been as busy as he liked following his release from the Lions on Aug. 10, despite being the team’s second-highest producing receiver in the first six weeks.

“When we let Derick go, it wasn’t a personal issue. We just felt that we had to make some changes within our own team,” said Lions head coach and GM Wally Buono. “If a player gets another opportunity somewhere else, I’d never begrudge him that.

“Derick helped us in certain ways, but we just felt for what we wanted to do we had to make a change.”

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca


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