CFL

Veteran WR Bryant adjusting to new position with Argos

{eot}
The Canadian Press
6/4/2013 2:56:28 PM
Decrease Text SizeIncrease Text Size
Text Size

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. -- Romby Bryant is adjusting to his new life with the Toronto Argonauts on the fly.

The veteran receiver is in a new city, with a new team and is trying to pick up a new offence while learning the nuances of a new position. And he's doing it on the run, having not had the benefit of taking any reps prior to Sunday, when the defending Grey Cup champions opened training camp.

Trouble is, the clock is ticking. The Argos' first exhibition game is June 12 in Winnipeg against the Blue Bombers, and they kick off the regular season June 28 at Rogers Centre against the arch-rival Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

"Oh yeah, it's hard," Bryant said of all the adjustments following Tuesday's two workouts. "I'm just trying to get the playbook down and learn the plays.

"It's a matter of getting the reps in. I can sit down and look at the playbook all day but it doesn't mean anything until I get out there and see it all in front of me and look at the defence."

But Bryant has more on his mind than just football. He's also taking courses towards getting his communications degree at Tulsa University -- his alma mater -- while adjusting to being away from his fiancee, Melissa, who lives in Fairfax, Va., as well as his four-year-old daughter, Shiloh, living in Oklahoma City.

"It gets harder every year to leave my daughter because the older she gets the more she knows I'm actually leaving," Bryant said. "For me, I can't get used to it at all."

Fortunately, Bryant's daughter wasn't affected by the klller tornado that recently devastated the Oklahoma City region.

Bryant, 33, signed with Toronto this off-season shortly after being granted his release by Calgary. Bryant spent three-plus seasons with the Stampeders, registering 211 catches for 3,028 yards and 22 touchdowns before adding two receptions for 31 yards in the club's 35-22 loss to the Argos in the 100th Grey Cup at Rogers Centre in November.

The six-foot-one, 191-pound Bryant was slated for free agency Feb. 15 but asked for his release in January upon sensing Calgary wasn't interested in his return. The move paid off as he signed with Toronto three days prior to the start of CFL free agency.

Bryant brings a veteran presence and proven track record to Toronto. Over five CFL seasons, the former Tulsa star has 295 career receptions for 4,428 yards and 31 TDs.

"Yeah, but that doesn't mean anything," he said. "I feel like I can run around still but what I think doesn't really matter because I'm not making the decisions.

"I've been in those situations where I was the young guy that put out the veteran even though the veteran was better than me but I was younger. That's the way of the world. There's no guarantee I'll even make this team."

Bryant's best CFL campaign was 2010 when he had 78 catches for 1,170 yards and 15 TDs, all career highs. The Oklahoma City native recorded 51 and 55 catches, respectively, the last two seasons with the Stampeders.

Despite those numbers, Toronto head coach Scott Milanovich isn't expecting Bryant to become the club's No. 2 receiver behind Chad Owens, the CFL's outstanding player last season who was the league's top receiver with 94 catches for 1,328 yards and six TDs.

"We have different guys we can spread the ball around to," Milanovich said. "When the coverage dictates you're to get the ball, you've got to (make the catch).

"We expect that of all our guys, whether they're starters or backups. They just have to do the job when their number is called."

Owens headlines a Toronto receiving corps that also includes veteran Canadian slotback Andre Durie (70 catches, 842 yards, five TDs), sophomore Dontrelle Inman (50 catches, 803 yards, five TDs), Jason Barnes (31 catches, 437 yards, four TDs) and B.C. native Spencer Watt (34 catches, 424 yards). Running back Chad Kackert added 23 catches for 212 yards.

"It's very explosive and they've got a lot of young, quick, fast guys," Bryant said. "They can score from anywhere with guys like Kackert, (Owens), Durie and also Inman.

"Pick your poison."

But the man who makes Toronto's offence go is quarterback Ricky Ray. The 11-year veteran completed a club-record 68.6 per cent of his passes last year for 4,059 yards and 20 touchdowns in 14 games.

Ray was especially sharp in Toronto's three playoff games, completing 69-of-97 passes for 869 yards with five TDs and an interception in leading the Argos to their Grey Cup win.

He's happy to have another veteran receiver to throw to.

"Romby is one of those guys who has a lot of experience in this league and can play a few different positions for us," Ray said. "He's not like a rookie who has to learn defence and offence and pretty much the whole game.

"He's just trying to learn what we're doing here. As far as running routes and all that stuff he knows how to make the adjustments off what the defence is doing."

Bryant says the prospect of hauling in passes from Ray appeals to him.

"Ricky is a great quarterback," Bryant said. "Whatever receivers play with Ricky are going to have a great year.

"He makes receivers look good."



CFL on TSN analyst Paul LaPolice opens his playbook and breaks down key plays from each week's games. More...

Ask the Panel!

The CFL on TSN panel is all set to answer your football questions!

Send your question on Twitter to @CFLonTSN using the hashtag #AskThePanel.

TSN TweetBox
© 2014
All rights reserved.
Bell Media Television