October 9, 2012
Ray's return to Argos his callMilanovich confident No. 1 QB will be back in lineup ASAP
By FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency
Once some of the bitter aftertaste was finally released from his system, Argos head coach Scott Milanovich reached out to Ricky Ray via a text message.
“Take your time and make sure you get healthy,’’ relayed Milanovich on Tuesday, a day after the Ray-less Argos showed no ray of hope in a hapless home loss to Saskatchewan.
It goes without saying that all three sides of the football need to be addressed, but in a quarterback league such as the CFL the onus, fairly or unfairly, falls on the shoulder on the guy lining up under centre, or in today’s modern game in a shotgun formation.
Jarious Jackson, to borrow the well-used cliche, is what he is, a veteran backup who knows his role, accepts it and makes the most out of whatever opportunity arises.
Images of Cleo Lemon were quickly evoked as the Argos offence did very little of anything even remotely close to any semblance of consistency, putting together one scoring drive and going the entire second half pointless.
During his time in Toronto, Lemon was forced fed the starter’s role. While Jackson is not a starter, he is serviceable but clearly not in the same class as Ray.
Whatever happens in the coming days leading up to Montreal’s visit on Sunday, a kickoff with the added meaning of first place in the East, Milanovich will not rush Ray.
“It’s up to Ricky,’’ said Milanovich. “If anything, Ricky’s going to push himself to go probably too early. In that text message I basically told him we’ll be OK this week if he’s not going to be ready.
“I know him, he’s tough and he wants to be out there. He’ll do the right thing and we’re going to make sure he does the right thing.”
Ray hasn’t said a thing since the first quarter of a July 23 road game against the Als when he sprained a ligament in his left knee.
Ray did show up at the team’s Mississauga facility and for what it’s worth walked as though he’s made strides in his recovery.
As early as last week, Ray was able to take part in some modified drills at walkthrough, worked on some throws and his drops on the side with quarterbacks coach Jason Moss in a practice setting, but has yet to do anything with the first-team offence.
Wednesday is a scheduled walkthrough day for the Argos, meaning Thursday looms as the real first day when a better handle on Ray’s status will be determined.
It’s no knock on Jackson, but the Argos have a different vibe with Ray in control.
At times, Jackson had receivers open but either overthrew them or had balls bounce into the turf.
On other occasions, he forced throws, while occasionally leaving his receivers exposed with errant tosses.
Mind you, there wasn’t much support up front, no running game to speak of to take pressure off Jackson and in general no attention to detail, in all aspects to Toronto’s game.
Despite the many flaws that were exposed, the Argos find themselves at 7-7 playing an opponent that’s feeling just as bad as Toronto and sitting in first at 8-6.
Sunday’s showdown for first is the final time these two teams will meet during the regular season, a three-game season series that is tied 1-1.
For obvious reasons, the winner on Sunday will have the tiebreaker, but a win by the Als virtually locks up first with only three games remaining.
“We’re a .500 team right now,’’ said Milanovich of a team that hasn’t won more than two in a row all season, both wins produced against a bad Hamilton side. “At the same time, we’re one game out of first place.
“We just need to focus on us, getting better and doing what we need to do to get better. Then we’ll go from there.”
The bottom line with the Argos is that they’ll go only as far as Ray takes them, plain and simple.
CALVILLO CAN GET ORNERY
Scott Milanovich was around Anthony Calvillo long enough to know the future hall of fame quarterback does not beat around the bush.
When something needs to be said, Calvillo isn’t afraid to express himself and take the blame when things are going awry.
The Als enter this Sunday’s battle for first against the Argos pretty much in the same boat as the Boatmen, which is to say Montreal is looking within, having dropped a demoralizing home loss to wretched Winnipeg.
“Anthony’s an emotional guy,’’ said Milanovich. “If he thinks things aren’t going well he’s going to say so. That’s why he’s a champion.
“I’m sure they’ll be getting themselves ready.”
Calvillo was so enraged following Sunday’s loss to the lowly Blue Bombers that he uttered a profanity.
“This feeling we have in this locker room right now is we’re in last place,’’ Calvillo said after the game. “We have to get our act together. It definitely starts with myself.”