CFL

Hogan: Owens return should pay immediate dividends

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Mike Hogan, TSN Radio 1050
8/22/2014 7:05:09 PM
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It didn't look like a dangerous play.

Back on July 12th, in a game against the Calgary Stampeders, Chad Owens was returning a punt. As he cut across the field he was tackled by a pair of Stamps, who fell on Owens. The weight of the two players bent back his foot, causing the discomfort.

Despite the injury, Owens still finished the game. Remarkably he finished with nine catches for 102 yards.

On Saturday afternoon, Owens, who led the league in receptions a year ago, returns to the field in Edmonton as the Argos take on the Eskimos. It's not a moment too soon for the player known league wide as 'The Flyin' Hawaiian'.

"I'm excited," said Owens. "This is what I've dedicated my life to do. This is what I love to do. I love to compete. I love to go out there and play football and to be back out there feels really good."

Despite the frustration of not being able to play, Owens tried to make the most of his down time.

"Any time you get to watch, you get to learn as well," said the receiver. "That's what I did, I became a student. I became a fan. I got to watch some young guys step up, make plays. I got to familiarize myself with the new guys and how they're running routes and how they're doing things, because I knew eventually when I got back some of those guys may be around me and I'd have to get a feel for how they're doing things."

Despite missing five of the Argos eight games, Owens still leads the team with 28 catches for 339 yards. Those marks still lead the team by six catches and 116 yards. To say that head coach Scott Milanovich is happy to see Owens back is an understatement.

"It means a ton to Ricky (QB Ray)," said the coach. "He's a guy that knows the offence that Ricky can count on to be in the right spot at the right time."

Also happy to see Owens back is aforementioned QB. Ray says Owens' return is big for the Argos offence.

"He's a special player," Ray told media before the game. "He does a lot of things out there. He's a guy that you just want to get the ball into his hands and let him do his thing. All quarterbacks love the guys who can RAC, run after the catch. He makes me look good quite a bit."

In any other circumstance the focus would be on Ray. He's back in the city in which he starred for nine seasons, and he's 367 yards shy of the 50,000-yard mark for his career, something only Anthony Calvillo, Damon Allen, Danny McManus, Henry Burris and Ron Lancaster have accomplished. Elite company to be sure, something Ray is aware of.

"It's going to be pretty special, obviously," said Ray. "The other guys that are in that club, some of whom I've played against throughout my career, some of whom you hear about when you first come here, the legends that they are. Just to be in that group would be pretty special."

"It's not something that's really on my mind," continued the QB. "You're trying to win the football game. I think it's more of when the season's over, when you're done playing to kind of reflect back on and say it was pretty cool, I'm pretty lucky."

When pressed on the career milestone, and whether it would be important to hit the mark at Commonwealth Stadium, Ray quickly put that to bed.

"No, no," said the 12-year veteran. "Trying to do it here or anywhere else, just doing it is pretty special regardless of where it's at. I'm just looking forward to come out here and playing (the Eskimos) and whoever it is the next week and when it happens it will be a great moment, but it's not something I'm going to take two weeks vacation to celebrate, it's something more of when I'm done playing to be happy about."

Owens return comes at a good time for the Argos. The injury-plagued receiving corps is starting to get healthy. Jason Barnes returned last week, Owens is ready to go Saturday, which leaves only Andre Durie and Jason Chiles on the shelf, among those who were starters at the beginning of the season. Milanovich says Durie is getting close to being ready and the Argos are hoping to get him back for the Labour Day Classic against the Hamilton Tiger Cats. Chiles will be another three weeks or so.

Chad Owens (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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