June 23, 2012
Argos hope to keep Flyin' Hawaiian on move
By FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency
TORONTO - Chad Owens will line up on offence and he’ll be put in a position to make plays, observations that are hardly earth shattering.
What isn’t so obvious is the amount of plays Owens will be asked to play on offence, a balancing act head coach Scott Milanovich must tackle to ensure the CFL’s premier returner on special teams doesn’t outdo himself.
“Chad’s going to play offensively,’’ Milanovich said on Friday, which would turn out to be the first official day for the Argos to get ready for Edmonton and next Saturday’s season opener. “He’s too good not to have him out there. What we’re trying to do is manage his reps.
“How we’re going to do that at this point, we’re going to wait and see. Chad’s a tough guy and he’s one of those guys who can run all day.”
The competitor in Owens demands that every available moment to get the ball in his hands must be exercised.
But it’s a long season and the Argos have raised the bar as high as it can get as hosts of this year’s milestone 100th Grey Cup.
“We’re going to be smart and he’s going to be honest with us,’’ Milanovich said of Owens. “I’ve talked to him about it. We need him for 18-20 games and we can’t overload him.”
Given his ability to turn a routine pass into a touchdown on any given play, it would be foolish not to have Owens line up on offence.
But his strength remains in the return game and that dimension cannot be compromised.
What is likely to happen is for Owens to be used in packages designed to get him the ball in space.
When the Argos agreed to a new contract with Owens last off-season, it was obvious part of the agreement was to use him as an every-down receiver.
He would post his second season of 3,000 combined yards, but that explosive presence on special teams went missing far too often.
In fact, his lone return major was produced in Montreal, Milanovich’s former team, when Owens somehow eluded four would-be tacklers at midfield attempting to cover the punt.
In his first season in Toronto, the Flyin’ Hawaiian returned two punts for majors, returned two missed fields for touchdowns and was named CFL special teams player of the year.
It said a lot of Toronto’s passing game last season that Owens, who didn’t move inside to the slot position, until midway through the season, led the Argos, but produced zero receiving touchdowns.
Having a legitimate quarterback in Ricky Ray will help Owens become a better receiver.
Getting Owens such much-needed rest can only help the Argos’ return game.