EDMONTON — Toronto quarterback Ricky Ray says receiver Chad Owens is a “special player,” whose return to action Saturday afternoon in Edmonton should bring new life to the Argonauts’ offence.
But to Eskimos defensive end Odell Willis and head coach Chris Jones, Owens is simply another player in a blue uniform to be shut down.
“We get paid just like he do,” Willis said Friday. “If he plays, that’s good, I’m glad he’s back. But at the same time he’s just a normal player. We don’t put nobody on no pedestal.”
“Him coming back, if they feel he helps them, kudos to them. But we’ll just come out and play Eskimos football.”
And Jones, in his first year as head coach of the surprising 6-1 Eskimos after spending the previous two years with the 3-5 Argos, said his defence will continue to “do what we do.”
“You can’t let one guy change what your philosophies are,” he said.
Owens missed the last four games on the six-game injured reserve list with a left foot injury. He said he spent that time watching and studying the Argos and the CFL, learning about himself and the game.
“I was able to learn more and think about my own personal game and some of the things that I’ve done and critique myself and see what I can do differently when I get back because what’s on film is what they saw 5-6 weeks ago,” he said. “So I’m trying to bring not a whole lot different game but I got a chance to add a little bit more to what I do.”
For Ray, just having Owen back and doing what he has always done will be more than enough, even through the Argo offence still ranks third in the league in points scored and managed a 2-2 won-loss record in his absence.
“He’s a special player who does a lot of things very well,” Ray said of Owens, who was the CFL’s leading receiver and punt returner when he got injured in Toronto’s 34-15 loss to Calgary in Week 3.
“We want to get the ball into his hands because of what he does after the catch.”
“He makes me look good, I can throw that short stuff and he turns it into long gains.”
While Owens is a huge return for Toronto, the Eskimos will have a significant addition to their roster as well in linebacker J.C. Sherritt, the 2012 most outstanding defensive player who has played only one game this season because of a lower body injury.
Where and how much he will play is uncertain, but Sherritt is just glad to finally get back on the field.
“It’s definitely been frustrating,” Sherritt said. “I expect to play the whole game but if I play one snap I’ll play it to the limit but I’m just ecstatic to suit up, have pads on and not be watching it from inside the locker-room.”
In his absence, Rennie Curran, Dexter McCoil and Otha Foster have filled the linebacking roles on a strong defence that ranks in the top three of virtually every important defensive statistic.
“I knew in training camp we had something special and with coach Jones’s defensive scheme and athletes on this team I knew we had a chance to be really special,” Sherritt said. “We have a long way to go to get to that championship calibre but we’re on our way.”