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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

ARGOS PLEASED WITH RAY'S CAMP PERFORMANCE

GUELPH, Ont. (CP) - Toronto Argonauts head coach Scott Milanovich is sleeping pretty soundly these days.

That's because veteran quarterback Ricky Ray continues to throw pain-free at the team's training camp. Ray missed most of last season recovering from off-season shoulder surgery.

The 36-year-old Californian went under the knife after playing with pain in the joint for two years. But roughly a week after reporting to the Argos - Ray joined the club's rookies last week before camp officially opened on the weekend - the three-time Grey Cup champion is experiencing no shoulder discomfort, which is great news for Milanovich.

"His arm looks better than it has in two years to me,'' Milanovich said Tuesday following the third day of training camp. "It's back to the way it was when he first got here (in 2012).

"The only concern now is if it's able to stay strong throughout the season. Usually the third day (of camp) is the hardest day and he looked great. It's making it easier to sleep at night, there's no doubt.''

Ray did return to the lineup late in the season, making two starts - including the Argos' 25-22 East Division semifinal loss to Hamilton. He finished 47 of 65 passing for 423 yards with two TDs and one interception.

"It just feels good to be out here participating,'' Ray said. "Last year was a lot of rehab and watching and just really not knowing how or when my shoulder was going to be back or if I was ever going to be able to do anything.

"It's just nice to be involved and not have to worry about that this year. My arm is getting a little tired like it normally does but no pain and no real soreness so I'm very pleased.''

The surgery hasn't noticeably increased Ray's arm strength, which has never been Ray's forte over his 13 CFL seasons. But the former Sacramento State star is throwing a much tighter spiral, which could be beneficial in breezy conditions as those passes tend to cut through wind more easily.

The six-foot-three 210-pound Ray is the most accurate passer in CFL history with a completion average of 67.7 per cent.

Veteran slotback Andre Durie, who's also coming back from two injury-plagued seasons, likes what he's seen from Ray so far.

"He's looking good, man, looking really good,'' Durie said. "He's been looking like the Ricky of old, only improved.''

A healthy Ray is crucial for Toronto as backup Trevor Harris - who led the squad to a 9-7 record with Ray sidelined - is now with the Ottawa Redblacks. The Argos have three other quarterbacks in camp - veterans Adrian McPherson and Logan Kilgore and rookie Cody Fajardo.

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