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Ray to start in Argos’ finale


TORONTO—There will be no late-season rest for Ricky Ray.

Ray will be under centre tonight when Toronto hosts the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Rogers Centre in the regular-season finale for both teams.

The Argonauts (9-8) already have clinched third in the East Division so such veterans as slotback Chad Owens, running back Brandon Whitaker, receiver Vidal Hazelton, and offensive lineman Chris Van Zeyl won’t play.

Usually Ray would be included in that group. But the 36-year-old will be making just his second start of the season and acknowledges he needs the snaps.

“The more reps I can get, the better,” he stressed.

“My mindset is I’m going to be ready to play the whole game like it’s any other game.

“We’ve had the luxury here a few times of being able to rest some guys [but] for me it’s not my scenario this year,” Ray added.

“I’m just looking forward to get out there and getting as many reps as I can.”

Ray missed half the year recovering from off-season right shoulder surgery. And when he returned in September, it was as incumbent Trevor Harris’s back-up.

Ray made his 2015 debut as Toronto’s starter last Friday, completing 26-of-38 passes for 227 yards with a TD and interception the Argos’ 27-25 home loss to B.C.

“I didn’t feel too bad,” Ray recalled. “I felt like I saw things pretty well.

“I missed a few reads and a couple of throws, more of just kind of pocket movement, throwing off-balance a little bit,” he noted.

Although nearly a year has passed since Ray underwent surgery, he said his arm strength hasn’t completely returned.

“No, it’s not back to where it was pre-injury but I feel like compared to last year it’s pretty darn similar,” he admitted.

“It would be nice to be 23 again.”

Toronto will play its final home game at Rogers Centre as the club will move into a refurbished BMO Field next year.

The contest also could be Ray’s last on home soil with the Argos as he’s in the final year of his CFL deal.

“It [becoming a free agent in February] has definitely entered my mind, “ he remarked.

“It’s going to be a possibility for me but it’s hard to say what’s going to happen.

“I’m just focusing on the games we have and don’t really think about that right now,” Ray stressed.

“I still have the drive to play and still feel like I want to play.”

Toronto has dropped three-straight and head coach Scott Milanovich said a win tonight certainly would give his club momentum heading into the playoffs.

However, with the Argos assured of going on the road in the post-season, he’s unsure just how much his starters will play against Winnipeg.

“I’m saying I want to see everyone play the whole game, but realistically I don’t know if that will happen,” he conceded.

“I’m going to trust my gut once the game gets started and see where it goes.

“The reality is, win or lose, all the records are wiped clean next week,” Milanovich noted.

“But I think it would be good for us to get that feel-good in our belly.”

Winnipeg’s season ends tonight, meanwhile, and Milanovich is expecting a spirited effort from the Bombers, whose second-year head coach is former Argo player and assistant Mike O’Shea.

“‘Osh’ has had a whole week to go over special-teams scenarios,” Milanovich said.

“I expect them to come after us on punt, fakes, the whole works.

“Honestly, in a game like this I expect everything,” he added.

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