June 17, 2012
Santos joins Argos' QB mixChallenging Jackson for backup role
By Frank Zicarelli, QMI Agency
TORONTO - Ricky Santos isn’t going to ruffle any feathers and neither is this low-maintenance backup quarterback going to suddenly evolve into a prima donna.
For a guy with such a low profile, his arrival in Argoland on Saturday did create somewhat of a buzz as the Argos suddenly stirred the pot as it relates to their rotation at the quarterback position.
Ricky Ray is well entrenched as the incumbent, likely to get another quarter of action in next Tuesday’s pre-season finale against visiting Montreal as the countdown to the June 30 regular-season curtain raiser draws nearer, a date that will take Ray back to his CFL roots in Edmonton.
Santos isn’t as accomplished as Ray, but if anyone can grasp Scott Milanovich’s play book in a short time it would appear to be Santos, who spent three full-time years with Milanovich when Toronto’s rookie head coach served as the Als’ offensive co-ordinator and quarterbacks coach.
When he arrived on Saturday, Santos had roughly two hours to get acquainted with Milanovich’s offence, would later take to the practice field and performed as best as possible given the circumstances.
“Okay,’’ said Santos of his first day in Double Blue. “There were a couple of reads that were slow, but that was expected. It’s only going to get better.”
With precious practice time before Tuesday’s date with the Als, Santos plans on taking every rep as though it was his last, approaching every practice as yet another moment to prove that he belongs on the Argos.
Jarious Jackson, who didn’t exactly distinguish himself in last week’s win over the Ticats, must be now looking over his shoulder.
Jackson spent years in B.C. waiting in the wing and serving as that good foot soldier all good teams need when a clear-cut No. 1
quarterback is in place.
During their time against Hamilton, rookies Trevor Harris and Zach Collaros showed signs of promise, players the Argos must consider as they sort out who and how many quarterbacks they decide to keep when rosters must be announced.
“You can never have too many good quarterbacks,’’ Milanovich said. “I know Ricky at least three years and he knows this offence. He has a chance to execute it.
“It’s not anything the other guys have done poorly. We’re bringing in more competition and we feel it brings out the best in everybody. He (Santos) should have a head start because he does know the system. He should transition quickly.
“There’s more competition out there and may the best many win.”
In Montreal, the best man was Anthony Calvillo, followed by Adrian McPherson, whose ability to make plays with his feet complemented A.C.’s pocket presence and quick release.
Santos was told last Saturday of his release in the hours leading up to practice when the call to visit with GM Jim Popp was made.
“He basically told me that they had a lot of young quarterbacks (namely Josh Neiswander and Scott Riddle) and they wanted to evaluate them,’’ Santos said. “It was a numbers things. I was gracious. I had 31/2 years there and have nothing bad to say. They’re (Als) are a class act. I went home for a week and then the call came.”
In Montreal, Santos was known more as the team’s holder on field goals, a role Jackson also served during his time in B.C.
Given their CFL experience, the battle for Ray’s backup appears to be between Jackson and Santos, a race that will go the distance.
A leader and a competitor, Santos has a relationship with Milanovich and his understanding of Milanovich’s offence can’t hurt.
“When I first looked at the playbook, there were similarities,’’ Santos said when asked how he reacted when the Argos gave him the offensive playbook on Saturday. “But Scott now has full control and he’s put his spin on stuff.
“I think he’s done a great job with it and I think it’s going to be very dynamic this year.”
How and if Santos fits a role, only time will tell.
The injury bug continues to take a bite out of the Argos.
On Saturday, Jason Pottinger, who may lose his starting middle linebacker job by default, wasn’t able to take part in the team’s practice with what head coach Scott Milanovich described as a calf injury.
“We’re not sure of a time frame,’’ said the rookie head coach.
Pottinger avoided free agency this off-season when he agreed to come back to the Argos knowing full well a new coaching staff was in place.
The Mac product has never backed down from any challenge and welcomed the competition at middle linebacker involving Ejiro Kuale.
Also on Saturday, projected starting slotback Andre Durie appeared to have reinjured a hamstring, a day after he practised for the first time.
“It’s not as bad as it looked,’ said Milanovich.
Also on Saturday, the Argos announced that receiver Jarmon Fortson was placed on the suspended list.
No explanation was given.i