Hogan: Argos have difficult decisions to make at receiver

Mike Hogan
6/18/2013 7:56:56 PM
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It's a good position to be in, but it's still not ideal.

After the first round of player cuts, the Toronto Argonauts find themselves with a glut of import receivers. While it's better to have too many talented players than too few, it doesn't mean things are going to be easy for head coach Scott Milanovich and his staff to trim down the number by June 22. That's when CFL rosters have to be reduced to 46 players, seven more on the practice roster, plus those who are placed on the injured list.

Ideally, how many import receivers would Milanovich like to dress for a game?

"Last year (we dressed) four Americans and three Canadians so we carried seven on most games, but how the ratio works out, whether it's four Americans, or three Americans and four Canadians is going to be sorted out".

So what is he looking for?

"We're looking for some different skill sets and guys that can fill different roles. One thing about our offence is it's hard enough that you have to probably keep a few extra receivers around on the P.R. or on the 46 just because you can't bring a guy in off the street and expect him to learn it in one week. We're looking for the whole package, someone who can separate in man (man-to-man coverage), someone who can elevate and still be physical blocking".

Either way the math isn't good for those in camp. There are still nine players gunning for those three or four spots on the dress roster. Chad Owens, Jason Barnes and Dontrelle Inman are all returning from the Grey Cup championship team. Romby Bryant and Trent Guy are CFL veterans new to the double blue, while newcomers Reggie Williams, Darvin Adams, John Chiles and Juaquin Iglesias have also shown they have a considerable amount of talent.

Adams, who combined with Cam Newton to form a dangerous combination at Auburn, had an impressive game in Winnipeg, catching passes for 31 and 29 yards. Still, he knows he's in tough.

"All of the guys up here are pretty good. I'll just leave that decision up to the coaches. I just try to play hard every day, study my play book and I'm sure all the other guys are too".

The best of the import receivers is Chad Owens, the league's reigning Most Outstanding Player. He knows whoever joins him at receiver, the Argos will field a talented troupe.

"I think they've been great, I wish we could keep them all because I think they all bring something different to the table. It's made it very competitive and I think that's what you need, especially at the receiver position. Nobody can relax, it just pushes everybody to play their best football every day".

No matter who survives the axe, the beneficiary of this overabundance of talent is quarterback Ricky Ray, back for his second season in Toronto. He says this camp has been great with the returning receivers because there's a comfort level that wasn't there a year ago.

"For them it's just getting their consistency down, being in the right spots every time and just learning how to run routes".

Ray is also in on the discussion as to who stays and who goes. He says the coaching staff will talk to the QBs about what they think.

"They come to us periodically throughout camp and ask us how we feel about a certain guy. We've got some good young guys, it's going to be a tough decision for the coaches, but that's what you want. You want to have a good group where they're making it tough on the coaches to narrow it down".

If that's the goal, then the receivers have done their job. Now it's up to the staff to do something even tougher, pick three or four starters out of the talented group of nine.

Notes: Milanovich talked about the players who missed Tuesday's practice due to injury. Linebacker Marcus Ball "should be fine. He probably won't play (Thursday)". Receiver John Chiles "is going to be a little bit, not months but a couple weeks probably". DL Nekos Brown "is getting better. Probably won't play in this game, but should be ready in a couple of days" ... With backup P/K Anthony Alix having been released, the Argos need an emergency kicker should something happen to Swayze Waters in a game. Milanovich says starting receiver Spencer Watt is first in line for the place kicking duties, while the punting chores would be up in the air. "Some of the quarterbacks claim they can punt. We're still working on that, but supposedly Spencer hit a couple of field goals (Monday) so I think that's the route we'd go" ... When asked by about his kicking history, Watt said he never even kicked in high school, but did play soccer. He said his longest field goal when just goofing around with buddies was in the vicinity of 50 yards ... Bryan Payton took Marcus Ball's reps with the first team ... LB Brandon Isaac had a good comeback for defensive coordinator Chris Jones in a drill. After catching a pass, Jones yelled that the pick was easy. Without missing a beat Isaac replied "I made it look easy" ... That line was upstaged later by Ray. When talking about Darvin Adams' career at Auburn, joked to the QB if he and Cam Newton were basically mirror images of one another and Ray quickly agreed. "Ya, pretty much. Same arm strength, move out of the pocket the same way, so probably not much different". He laughed before adding "I wish".

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