TORONTO -- With a pivotal home game against Winnipeg on Friday night, the Toronto Argonauts announced on Thursday that quarterback Ricky Ray is set to return as the team's starting quarterback.
Against the Bombers Ray will make his first start since Sept. 23, when his knee was injured in the first quarter of a 31-10 loss to the Alouettes in Montreal.
"You try and stay involved the best you can but, really, there's no use for you,'' Ray said following Thursday's walkthrough. "I tried to help out as much as I could and be a coach a little bit but it's definitely nice to get into the mix of things and have a chance to be out there on the field.''
Jarious Jackson, in his first season with the Argos after spending eight years as a backup with the BC Lions, took over for Ray in that game and has since gone 1-2 in three starts with 754 yards, three touchdowns, and three interceptions.
The Boatmen still have an outside shot at first place in the East, but with three games left turn their attention to clinching a home playoff game on Friday night, which can happen with a win combined with a Ticats loss in Calgary on Saturday.
"I'm happy to have him back,'' said Argos head coach Scott Milanovich. "Obviously there's going to be an adjustment for him because he hasn't got a lot of reps the last four weeks.
"Are we concerned about his health? Absolutely but it's football and football is a physical sport and once he gets out there he has to play. They're going to try and hit him and that's the way it goes. We have to let him play football like he always has.''
Interim Winnipeg head coach Tim Burke said Ray's return allows Toronto to return to its usual offensive philosophy.
"They're a West Coast Offence and Ricky is more suited to that than Jarious,'' Burke said. "With Jarious they tried to run more play action with deeper routes that he felt comfortable with whereas Scott's offence is the West Coast Offence and he's going to feel more comfortable with Ricky in there.
"I'd think (Ray wearing brace) probably will limit his mobility some but Ricky gets a bad rap for being just a dropback guy. He has scrambled against my defences through the years and made my life hell. He is more deceiving than people think.''
Ray's biggest challenges Friday will be quickly adapting to the speed of the game and getting back into sync with his receivers.
"Obviously not being in there and not throwing to guys in a game situation hopefully that will come back right away,'' said Ray. "It's in my mind a little bit but what can you do about it?
"Just go out there and play. I think I've played enough games this year to have a good feel for the guys around me and hopefully it won't be an issue.''
With 3,371 yards and 12 touchdowns this season, his first with the team, Ray has been a key part of the Argos' success in 2012. He currently boasts a quarterback rating of 93.4, while completing passes at a league-best 68.4 per cent clip.
The team also announced Thursday that Chad Kackert will return as the starting running back. The second-year Argo has 535 rushing yards and five touchdowns this season since taking over as the team's starting back, but was sidelined with an injury for home games against Saskatchewan and Montreal.
- With files from The Canadian Press
|2||Blue Bombers||DE||Mulumba, Andy|
|3||Alouettes via EDM||LB||Edem, Mike|