Argos' Owens receiving attention

Argos WR/KR Chad Owens is on pace to become the first player in CFL history to eclipse 4,000...

Argos WR/KR Chad Owens is on pace to become the first player in CFL history to eclipse 4,000 combined yards in a single season. (QMI AGENCY)

BILL LANKOFF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:08 PM ET

For Chad Owens there is no mountain, too high; there is no dream that cannot be realized; no goal too far.

Not anymore.

Owens is on pace to become the first CFL player to eclipse 4,000 yards in a season. But, even better, he is finally getting the opportunity to showcase his talent as a receiver.

“Oh, man. It’s a dream. It’s a dream,” said Owens, smiling wistfully, Tuesday, after the team went through walk-through drills in preparation for Monday’s game against the B.C. Lions.

Owens will go into the game as the CFL’s fourth-leading receiver with 392 yards. That puts him in select company alongside the likes of Saskatchewan’s Weston Dressler.

“I tell everyone all the time. I consider myself a good receiver. I’m not great yet. Pass catching. I think I’ve got really good hands. I don’t catch a lot of balls with my body, you know. I’m confident in that: I’ve been a receiver my whole life. I’ve just never had a chance to showcase that throughout my whole professional career.”

Not that is, until this season.

In 2010 and 2011, Owens piled up record numbers as a return specialist.

He was the league’s most outstanding special teams player in 2010. In his second season he became the first player in pro football to record 3,000 combined yards in back to back seasons.

But there was always something missing. Owens kept telling everyone that he could be a receiver. He pined for that. He had the numbers as a college star at Hawaii that said, “Throw Me The Ball”.

But nobody could. Or did. He never found a connection with a series of Argonauts quarterbacks whose names are best left forgotten.

Head coach Jim Barker never found a way to deliver on the promise that Barker, as a general manager, saw in Owens.

That all changed when Barker acquired quarterback Ricky Ray and signed Scott Milanovich as head coach.

Suddenly Owens is open behind defences for 52-yard completions. His 14-yard per catch average is the highest of his career and he has three touchdown grabs.

It took him three years to get that many before Milanovich and Ray showed up to ride shotgun. “I think it’s obvious,” said Owens, when asked what the difference is between now ... and then. “It’s a quarterback that can get you the ball on time and in the right place. That’s huge having a guy there that can do that for you.”

Ray throws one of the nicest, most accurate deep balls in the game. “It’s a combination of that and coach Milanovich’s offence. With him giving me the opportunity to be in the slot he’s given me a chance to do things that I’m good at. That’s the big thing. The past I wasn’t in a position to showcase all my recieving skills. This year I am.”

So, in one of the better games of his career, he caught seven passes for 97 yards and TDs of 32 and 10 yards, against Montreal.

It has also helped that Barker has been able to upgrade the entire offence. “We have a lot of play makers ... a running back, so you can’t just double one guy,” said Owens.

Owens, along with Larry Taylor, are on pace to break Pinball Clemons’ record of 3,840 combined yards.

‘The same thing that makes him difficult to stop as a returner makes him a good receiver; his quickness. He just goes full speed all the time,” said Milanovich. “He’s working on not trying to do too much. He only needs to make one move because of his quickness and speed. He’s had a couple chances to make big plays in the past couple weeks and he has made them ... I think he’s just excited to be out there now and being a part of it.”

If Owens cracks the 3,000 combined yardage mark, he will become the first CFL player to do so in three consecutive seasons. And, he’s not discounting cracking the 4,000-yard barrier. “I think anything is possible. You can’t limit yourself to what you are capable of. I won’t do that. I don’t look at the big number at the end. I look at each game.”

Owens believes he has not yet played his best game. “If I come out of the game with 200 or 300 yards I had a pretty good day. Like last week, I thought I had a pretty good day but there was still room for improvement.

I have an ideal day in mind, I’m not going into details, but when you see it, you’ll know that was the day Chad was talking about.”


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