July 13, 2021

Hogan: Camp Diary – Day Four

The newcomer looked across the line of scrimmage at the offensive lineman standing opposite him. The one-yard distance between the two was new to him, though in a matter of seconds it wouldn’t seem that way.

When the whistle blew, the defensive player exploded, digging into a repertoire of speed and power moves, finding different ways to beat the man across from him, which happened often during the 15-minute period.

That was Shane Ray’s introduction to the CFL on Monday as he dominated in one-on-one drills. The Toronto Argonaut defender continued to impress during his second day of practice on Tuesday.

He told Argonauts.ca after Day Four that he’s rediscovered his love for the game.

“Not playing football for a year and a half, two years for me, I was restless,” he said. “I can’t even begin to describe how I felt without this game. I was excited to come here and just put my pads and helmet on. I was so grateful to just be in the locker room and talk to the guys. I took some things for granted when I was younger, but now that I have another opportunity, I’m just out here giving it everything I’ve got and being true to it. I’m having a great time.”

The now 28-year old Ray was a stellar NCAA player at the University of Missouri, named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year as well as being a consensus All-American. The Denver Broncos were so impressed with him that they selected him in the first round of the NFL Draft.

After four years with Denver, he signed with Baltimore but was released at the end of training camp in 2019, eventually signing with the Argos this February, making Defensive Coordinator Glen Young a happy man. He loves what he’s seen so far.

“Shane is a special athlete,” Young told Argonauts.ca. “He’s got a great combination of attributes. He’s an intelligent guy, extremely quick feet, he knows how to use his leverage. He’s been well taught throughout his life; he has one of those vast toolboxes that you love to have in a guy. He’s picked up what we’re doing very effectively. He pays attention and knows what he’s doing. He’s a natural born leader too, guys gravitate toward him.”

That’s obvious as Ray is usually talking to teammates after a drill about what just happened. When he speaks, other players listen.

That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a list of how to improve his own skills in the Canadian game.

“I definitely can continue to get better every day for sure,” said Ray. “If I’m a yard off the ball then I’ve got to get off the ball, I’ve got to have a great first step. I’ve been working on getting off as fast as I can and being able to close the space between me and the tackle, or whoever is there.”

There is zero question Ray has arrived in Canada with the perfect attitude, not always the case with high-profile NFLers. If he continues to combine that mindset with his obvious skill level, he will be a nightmare for opponents this year.


While it was only the fourth day of training camp, the decision was made to move the practices to a nearby field with a natural grass surface to give the players bodies a bit of a break.

The Argos welcomed two guest coaches to camp today from the host school. Guelph Gryphons Offensive Coordinator Mark Surya and Special Teams Coordinator Donnavan Carter were on hand after completing their quarantine periods. Carter was the Argos first-round draft pick, fourth overall, in 2000. This reunites “DC” with his teammate on that team, linebacker Glen Young.

Defensive back Shaquille Richardson also cleared protocols and practiced for the first time.

Rookie Dejon Brissett turned heads with two long catches, a 60-yard TD pass from Antonio Pipkin, and a diving 40-yard reception from Nick Arbuckle. After practice the Mississauga native was asked by Argonauts.ca how it felt to make a true football play like that after a year and a half of working out.

“It’s always fun making plays,” said a broadly smiling Brissett. “I’m always hard on myself…but it’s good to watch those kinds of plays over and enjoy it. I definitely look forward to making those throughout camp and hopefully when the season comes around.”

Pipkin also hit Damion Jeanpiere with a long pass in tight coverage.

As was the case with Brissett, offensive lineman Peter Nicastro made his first media appearance as a pro on Tuesday. The 2021 first-round pick was asked about the biggest difference between the pro and U Sports level.

“The speed of the game,” said the Calgary native. “Everything happens a lot quicker and our d-line (has) some of the best guys in the league. So just getting used to their speed and power…and just being comfortable with the playbook.”

That’s one of the more underappreciated aspects of the quality of the Argos defensive line. Aside from Philip Blake the line is young overall. Practicing every day against that calibre of opponent will do nothing but help the o-line improve.

Cameron Judge may have tipped off what kind of movie he finds funny. During his media appearance he arrived at the microphone in a tee-shirt that featured “McLovin’s” fake photo ID from the movie Superbad.