Bombs away for Burris
By FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency
|Tiger-Cats quarterback Henry Burris drops back to throw a pass against the Argonauts during a pre-season game at Ivor Wynne Stadium in Hamilton, Ont., June 13, 2012. (FRED THORNHILL/Reuters)
TORONTO - One of the knocks on Henry Burris was a perceived lack of arm strength, an area some cited for his departure from Calgary and subsequent arrival in The Hammer.
It's far too early to pass judgment on Burris, but the veteran looked refreshed and pretty much in mid-season form when he was given time to look down field and heave bombs that landed perfectly into the hands of Ticat receivers.
Bombs away might become the rallying cry in Tiger Town, especially with so many burners on the roster and with so many offensive options at Hamilton's disposal.
Speed, as they say, kills and the Ticats have an abundance of speed at the skilled position, beginning with Chris Williams, last year's rookie of the year in the CFL who hauled in a 75-yard major from Burris during Wednesday night's 29-24 loss to the visiting Argos.
"I've obviously watched him a lot playing against him over the years,'' Argos quarterback Ricky Ray said of Burris. "He's going to throw the ball deep down the field, he's going to buy time and he's got a great arm.
"He's probably one of the most talented quarterbacks in this league, just with everything he can do as far as arm strength, accuracy and the way he's able to move around. It's going to be tough playing against Hamilton this year."
When Burris and Ray took their acts East, they left behind a legacy of winning and championships in Calgary and Edmonton, respectively.
Ray started on Wednesday night and left the game with the Argos leading, 14-0.
Burris entered the game in the second quarter and would air it out, taking advantage of an Argos secondary that blew coverages.
"We've had a lot of battles over the years and it's going to be no different this year," Ray said of rivalry with Burris.
"We're both on different teams but it's going to be the same-old story, fighting with him for position in your division."
The East promises to be very competitive, a four-team battle featuring four legitimate and proven signal-callers.
Buck Pierce, who helped lead Winnipeg to last year's berth in the Grey Cup, has another year of experience, while Anthony Calvillo is hoping to defy Father Time as he takes aim at yet another title run in Montreal.
Burris, who would throw for 214 yards against the Argos, couldn't help but look at the quarterbacks and the path each has taken, including Jarious Jackson, a veteran backup whom the Argos acquired via free agency this off-season.
"It was crazy because all the main quarterbacks were pretty much in different clothes than they were last year," Smilin' Hank said.
"Jarious Jackson was in B.C., Ricky Ray with Edmonton and me with Calgary. We can't get away from each other, but it was good to see those guys out there having a good time, playing the game we love and making our teams better and getting ready for the regular season."
Neither the Ticats nor the Argos are far from ready, but Burris' ability to throw down field should provide hope in a market craving a winner.
Head coach George Cortez knows a lot needs to be addressed following a performance that saw the Ticats yield four sacks, commit 13 penalties and allow the Argos to score on their opening possession in the second half.
"Way too many mistakes, way too many penalties, way too many turnovers, that would be my first thought," Cortez said.
"There were some positives but you're always disappointed when you lose and your always disappointed when the things you expect to do better don't happen."
Other than Burris, the positives were in the form of rookie tailback Chevon Walker and returner Chris Duvalt.
Hamilton closes out the pre-season in Winnipeg next week, while the Argos play host to Montreal.