September 25, 2012
Jarious Jackson in action for ArgosWith Ray out until at least Thanksgiving, Grey Cup winner must step up
By Bill Lankhof, Toronto Sun
The dream lives; the one about Ricky Ray leading the Argos to the 100th Grey Cup in November.
The good news for the Argonauts Tuesday was that Ray hadn’t snapped a ligament and that he should be able to play again this season.
The bad news is, nobody including Ray, appears to be certain when that return might come.
One thing is certain, he is sidelined for Saturday’s game against Winnipeg with a strained ligament in his left knee. That gives Ray two weeks to recover since the Argonauts won’t play again until the Thanksgiving Monday.
In the interim, the Argonauts will turn to veteran backup Jarious Jackson to shake off a two-game losing skid.
While head coach Scott Milanovich stressed the positive following practice, he was ambivalent about Rays’ return. “He will be off this week and then day to day. We hope to have him back (for the Saskatchewan game).
“(Ray’s former teammate and current Toronto quarterback coach) Jason (Maas) says he’s a quick healer. I don’t know what that means,” Milanovich said. “We’ll re-evaluate next week.”
Ray was injured in the first quarter of last weekend’s game against Montreal when Argos’ centre Jeff Keeping fell into his leg.
“It was a fluke play. I was blocking a guy and one of the Montreal defenders hit me from the side,” Keeping said. “They play with five down linemen and a lot of time you’re getting caught up in tight quarters.
“I got tripped up ... hit the gound. My foot came up and clipped Ricky.”
Whether Ray himself believes he can return in two weeks remains a mystery since club rules don’t allow reporters to speak with players on the day-to-day injury list.
“I think it’s a little sore,” Milanovich said. “I’m no doctor. But Ricky said he had something similar in the past and that he healed quickly. At this point all we’re worried about is this week. Jarious will do a good job.”
Jackson completed 15-of-31 passes for 198 yards and threw one interception in relief of Ray last weekend. “When you go from no reps to all of a sudden getting thrown into the fire its almost like being a rookie again,” Jackson said. “I’ve enjoyed being here every day but actually being in there, being ‘The Guy,’ makes it all that much better.”
An eight-year veteran with two Grey Cup rings, Jackson had not thrown more than 36 passes in any of the past three seasons as a backup in B.C. before signing with Toronto this year.
“This is just the scenario we brought him in for,” Milanovich said. “The positive thing is he played almost an entire game last week. It would’ve been tougher on Jarious if this happened to Ricky late in the fourth quarter. (Jackson) got a whole game of snaps. We kept him in an extra series so he could get some experience with the no-huddle.
“I think he’ll be fine. He’s already locked in today like it is game day.”
Two of Jackson’s most memorable starts came in 2008 against — ironically — the Bombers. He took over for Buck Pierce and hit on 19 of 24 passes and five TDs, then followed it up the next weekend against the Bombers again with 396 yards, completing 23 of 38 passes.
Jackson doesn’t possess Ray’s accuracy but he is more mobile and he has a stronger arm.
“Jarious has some different skills,” Milanovich said, “he’s a different type of leader. He’s more vocal. Ricky is kind of a lead-by-example player.”
Milanovich and Jackson both stressed Toronto’s offence won’t be drastically altered. One change should have Andre Durie back in the lineup. That helps. So, too, would the revival of the ground game with Chad Kackert.
As well, the offensive line will have to find a way to keep Winnipeg’s front six at bay. The Bombers are tied with B.C. for the league best in sacks with 29.
“We’ll have to do what it takes to keep (Jackson) clean. Hopefully we’ll be able to run the ball and mix it up. Move Jarious out of the pocket here and there,” Milanovich said, “and take the heat off.”