A fighting chance

Renegades receiver Darryl Ray poses for a picture Monday, Jan. 31, 2005 at Frank Clair Stadium...

Renegades receiver Darryl Ray poses for a picture Monday, Jan. 31, 2005 at Frank Clair Stadium after signing a new contract with the team. (Ottawa Sun/Errol McGihon)

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:33 AM ET

The Renegades' re-signing of Darryl Ray drew more media coverage (two newspapers, two TV stations) to Frank Clair Stadium yesterday than it would have during a normal, NHL-playing winter.

Renegades coach Joe Paopao dressed the former Gee-Gees receiver for only half the team's games last season, and his 11 receptions (for 111 yards) totalled one more than the combined number of balls he caught in his first two CFL seasons -- or one more than former Renegade D.J. Flick had for Hamilton in a single game against Saskatchewan last September.

But while he's never had great stats, the 27-year-old homebrew does have a pro football contract, which is a lot more than others in his shoes can boast.

"This will be my fourth season ... I was drafted 54th overall in the sixth round, or basically the last pick of the (2002) draft," said Ray, who grew up in Orleans. "I don't know how many sixth-round, last-overall picks are still in the CFL.

"I am happy with what I've done ... I've had to mature and accept my role at the time. But I'm still willing to strive to get to another level."

'SUGAR' RAY FOR A DAY

Ray, who started six of Ottawa's first seven games in 2004, did grow frustrated with his demotion (injured reserve, then practice roster) as the season went on. At one September afternoon practice, he turned into a "Sugar" Ray and engaged in a helmets-off, hockey-like fight with teammate/cornerback Bo Rogers that was brilliantly captured in a photo series on the front page of this newspaper.

CLEMONS BACK IN FOLD

Ironically, two seasons ago Ray was in a scrap with another Renegade DB -- 25-year old Crance Clemons -- who the team yesterday announced as signed after he had spent the past season with the NFL's Indianapolis Colts.

The Renegades have also announced the signing of 6-foot, 205-pound linebacker Erik Dandy, an all-American in 2003 who is third all-time in tackles with Western Kentucky. Dandy is expected to compete for the job left vacant by Kyries Hebert's departure to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The only fight Ray is concerned with now, is the one he'll have for a job at training camp.

"We can all see Pat (Woodcock) is the Canadian starter (in the receiving corps). He is the man right now," said Ray. "Right now, I'd be the fifth or sixth receiver. Am I going to come to camp ready to compete? Yeah. Do I think I can be a starter? Yeah.

"It's going to be a competitive camp."

AZZI IS ON HIS OWN

Included in that competition will be David Azzi, a 2004 first-round pick Ray brought along as a rookie last season. Before Azzi focused on being a receiver, he was Ray's quarterback when the two were Gee-Gees.

"He helped me get to the CFL the year I was drafted," Ray said of Azzi. "Last year I helped him back.

"This year, he's not going to get as many pointers from me, unless they also help the team. But the inside tips, I'll keep to myself."


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