Ticats become Brady's bunch

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 12:36 PM ET

HAMILTON -- Now that the great Tiger-Cats quarterbacking mystery has been solved, the biggest question in Steeltown returns to being just what kind of industrial sludge lies at the bottom of Hamilton Harbour.

Marcus Brady - neither Khari Jones nor Danny McManus -- will be the man behind centre for the winless Ticats in tonight's important match-up against the Renegades at Ivor Wynne Stadium.

It's what the Renegades expected all along, but the Ticats indicated as late as yesterday morning that a decision wouldn't be made until tonight's kickoff.

But after yesterday's practice, Hamilton coach Greg Marshall took Brady aside and let him know he could tell the world he'd be the man.

And that puts Brady in the spotlight for the 0-5 Ticats, who need a win not only to get on track for returning to the playoffs, but also to placate their unhappy fans.

"It's no added pressure," said the 25-year-old Brady, making the fourth start of his four-year CFL career. "To me, every game is a must-win because every game means so much."

Brady, who joined the Ticats from the Toronto Argos after a trade during last year's pre-season, substituted for McManus last weekend in Edmonton after the veteran pivot sprained his right thumb during the third quarter.

The replacement did a decent job, lofting a pair of touchdowns to receiver Chris Brazzell during a 36-30 loss to the Eskimos.

That performance and an impressive showing during this week's preparations led Marshall to start Brady instead of the recently-signed Jones, the 2001 CFL MVP with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

"Marcus has a better understanding of our offence and he's coming off a good performance," said Marshall. "But we did give Khari a chance to compete.''

MCMANUS HURT

The Ticats kept McManus on the active roster despite the injured thumb, but Marshall said it's unlikely he'll get into the game.

That means if Brady gets into trouble and can't connect like he did last week, the Renegades will face Jones.

"We've got quality guys who can come in and play," said McManus. "These guys have proven in the past that they can win some ball games, and I think the guys are going to rally around them and help them out as much as they can."

The Renegades are most concerned with Brady's ability to move out of the pocket and gain yards by running the ball -- never a concern with McManus and not so much with Jones.

Heading into the season, Brady had gained an average of seven yards on each of his 41 carries.

"We'll make him throw the ball and we can't let him run around," said Ottawa middle linebacker Jason Kralt.

Tonight's game is a big one for both teams.

The Ticats desperately want to show their fans that they still have a chance of reaching the post-season.

Hamilton also wants to show the league that it's a better club than indicated by its 0-5 record.

CLOSE MISSES

"You look at all the games and every one has been a battle, and every game we've had an opportunity to win," said Ticats linebacker Agustin Barrenechea. "It's a game of inches, and in every one of those games one or two plays could have changed the outcome.

''(Tonight) is just a matter of putting it together and having those plays fall our way."

Meanwhile, Ottawa (3-3) wants revenge after dropping all three games to the Tiger-Cats last season, including a pivotal 31-19 loss Aug. 19.

After that setback, the Renegades went 1-8 the rest of the way, while the Ticats rallied to go 5-3-1 -- including two more wins over Ottawa -- to make the playoffs.

"You've got to leave the past in the past and can't worry about the games from before," said Renegades quarterback Kerry Joseph. "We've just got to focus on what we have to do (tonight) because that's a team that's been playing some pretty good football, but are just coming up on the short end."

The Ticats want to change that tonight.

"We made the playoffs last year because we beat Ottawa three times," said Marshall. "And we need to start it off by getting a win (tonight).

"The guys know it's important, and I don't have to bang it into them every day."

GRID BITS: Receiver Darryl Ray, an Ottawa native, has been added to the Renegades' practice squad. He hasn't played since being hurt at training camp ... OL Marc Parenteau was also added to the practice roster ... Hamilton lists Rob Hitchcock as the starting linebacker on the right side ahead of former Renegades defender Donnavan Carter. The players are expected to rotate at the position tonight.

barre.campbell@ott.sunpub.com


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