TORONTO -- After an off-season of trying to install a new offence, it seemed as though QB Ricky Ray and rookie head coach Scott Milanovich were on the same page as the Toronto Argonauts opened Rookie and Quarterbacks Camp Wednesday, a prelude to the opening of Training Camp this weekend.
After coming to Toronto in a trade last December, the veteran pivot spent most of the off-season in close contact with Milanovich as he tried to get ahead of the curve in hopes of turning around a franchise that has missed the playoffs three of the last four seasons.
After hitting the field yesterday for his first full practice, Ray was not only pleased with the new scheme but relieved that based the offence’s makeup, a potential turnaround season will not rest solely on his shoulders.
“There is not a lot [in the system] where it is put on the quarterback to make extraordinary plays”, Ray said of Milanovich’s offence. “He is not asking you to drop back and avoid some of the rush guys to get outside the pocket. He expects the system to be run where you are making your reads and getting the ball out of your hand.”
For Ray, the last thing he would want to do is change the way he plays at this stage of his career. There is no debating that the 10-year CFLer has made his living as a precision passer rather than one that beats teams with his legs. Boasting a career completion percentage of just under 69, Ray is more than comfortable with how this offence suits his style of play.
“For my game, that is what I am – I am a pocket-passer and a guy that likes to go through my reads, make good decisions and beat a team that way rather than scrambling out and trying to make play.”
As much as the demands from Ray are similar to some of his previous offences, the formations and way the Argos plan to attack opposing defences is going to be drastically different.
“This offence is totally different than any that I have played in my career”, he explained. “I have played in that old school CFL offence where you spread the field with splits and make a defence cover the whole field. Here, we move guys around and bring splits in to condense the field a bit and actually give more space for guys to work.”
Altering the offence was one of Milanovich’s primary objectives heading into training camp but there is another new wrinkle that many will see at Argos camp this year and this is the speed in which they practice.
Milanovich made it very clear at the team’s off-season Veteran Mini-Camp that rhythm in practice is essential and that philosophy didn’t seem to change on the club’s first day of rookie workouts.
“The thing we focused on today as coaches is that we wanted the tempo to be fast”, said the Argos’ new sideline boss. “We didn’t really care how many mistakes were made out there, we needed the them to understand the tempo with which we practice”.
In other Argos rookie camp news, the club announced that it released QB BJ Hall and QB Adam Tafralis and WR Tyree Barnes had filed their retirement papers.
They also added DL Armond Armstead, OL Joshua Burley, WR Patrick Carter, RB Allen Ervin, OL Stephen Good, DB Devon Hall, DB Pacino Home, DL David Lee, DE Bernard Smith, OL Darion Smith, OL Michael Van Praet, DB Patrick Watkins, WR Roydell Williams and DB Raymond Brown.
The club will continue their rookie camp before veterans report on Saturday and hit the field for Training Camp on Sunday.