MISSISSAUGA – Ricky Ray and the Toronto Argonauts knew there was no reason to rush Ricky Ray back. A philosophy made more valid after witnessing his backup Zach Collaros’ play versus the BC Lions last week.
What first looked to be the Argonauts’ season hanging in the balance when Ray went down July 19 in Winnipeg, turned into an injury that was labelled day-to-day.
With Collaros earning a win in Ray’s absence and a much-needed bye week, Ray was afforded the opportunity to ease back into the lineup and has been back on the practice field with the Double Blue this week.
|Time tickin' against Argos|
The Argos will look to improve on their time of posession Thursday which has been dominated by the Alouettes -- winning the TOP battle in 19 straight regular season matchups...More Stats.
“It’s been getting better every day since the injury,” Ray said Monday. “I was able to move around on it, got a lot of extra days off in-between games and so far it has felt pretty good in practice.”
Patience, Ray said was the key, and he is feeling a difference each day as he and his club prepare to take on the rival Montreal Alouettes at Percival Molson Stadium Thursday night.
“I was taking it easy (on the brace),” the veteran pivot explained. “I still felt it when I was doing stuff. So I tried to get used to getting back into the motion of doing things at a very slow tempo so I didn’t aggravate it anymore. Just as the days went on I was able to do more and more at a better pace and now I have been able to practice the last couple days and haven’t had any problems.”
With a few full workouts under his belt, Ray says that the true test doesn’t come until he starts playing in a game.
“Getting hit for the first time, getting tackled and seeing how it responds and really just playing a game on (the knee)…going to definitely see how it feels and how I am going to react in those situations. Last year when I came back, I didn’t have any setbacks so hopefully it will be the same this year.”
Ray references a September matchup the last time the Argos were at Percival Molson when he went down in the first half with a knee injury after being rolled on by one of his offensive linemen.
He left the game and missed the following three weeks where the Argos went 1-2 in his absence.
“I was worried right when it happened because it felt similar to the same things I had last year when I did it,” he explained. “I was more frustrated than I was in pain so playing out there on the field I thought it was going to be what I went through last year. Fortunately for me it was not as bad and now I am just getting back to and use to doing things. It feels good.”
Although much has been made about the Montreal offence under now-departed head coach Dan Hawkins, Ray will be facing an Als defence that has been getting more stingy as each week goes by.
The Als enter Week 7 with a +2 in the giveaway-takeaway department and have converted into a league-leading 37 points of turnovers. In fact 30 per cent of Montreal’s total scoring this season have come on the back half of turnovers.
“Defensively (The Alouettes) are creating a lot of turnovers, they give you a lot of different pressure looks such as five man fronts where they are getting single blocks out front not letting you just double team, forcing you to get rid of the ball or even make quick decisions,” Ray said. “We know defensively they are going to be a tough challenge and are going to have to go out and play a really good game.”
One thing Ray will look to improve on is Toronto’s overall time of possession which Montreal has controlled in 19-straight meetings between the two clubs.
With the Boatmen sitting atop the East Division, they will look to create some separation as they enter a matchup ahead of their rivals in the standings for the first time since 2007.
- With files from Argonauts.ca