His numbers were down last year, but the Edmonton Eskimos have high hopes for Ricky Ray.
The starting quarterback is the only one on the roster to have his name written on the depth chart as a starter heading into training camp.
“We are looking forward to a very competitive camp,” said head coach Kavis Reed. “We have not identified one specific area as an area to watch critically. We believe that universally we have to look at every area because we haven’t assured but one starting position and that’s Ricky Ray.”
The assurance comes despite a less-than-memorable 2010 season by the 31-year-old, who had his lowest offensive productivity since his rookie season in 2002, while interceptions outweighed his touchdowns for the first time in his career (11-16).
“I had the opportunity to watch every film from last season and part of the 2009 season, as well. Ricky Ray is still a career 67%-completion quarterback,” said Reed, who had Ray slated as his starter before even getting the head coaching job in Edmonton last December.
“We truly believe as an organization Ricky Ray is still a championship quarterback.
“That’s why very quickly we made it clear that Ricky Ray is going to be the quarterback for the 2011 season.”
A sternum injury that affected his throwing motion led to a career-low 82.3 quarterback rating for Ray.
“He is fully healthy and in some instances the decline statistically does not indicate Ricky Ray’s play,” Reed said.
“There are a lot of other mitigating circumstances that led to a decline in his statistics last year. But we fully believe that Ricky’s healthy and ready to compete at a championship level.”
While there is no doubt who will be taking snaps for the Eskimos once the season starts, there are plenty of other battles to be decided over the next two weeks of camp.
“I think the most interesting battle is whether or not I can contain myself and not coach a position,” said Reed, who has moved into the managerial role as head coach for the first time in his career.