Holmes improvement for Ticats

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:16 AM ET

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are looking as though they can go from being the worst teams in the Canadian Football League last year to one of the best this season.

The Tiger-Cats added two more key components to their lineup yesterday, acquiring all-purpose player Corey Holmes and safety Scott Gordon and a first-round pick in 2007 from the Saskatchewan Roughriders for the first pick overall in the dispersal draft of the Ottawa Renegades. Saskatchewan used the first pick to take quarterback Kerry Joseph and used the third pick to select receiver/returner Jason Armstead.

Holmes led the CFL in all-purpose yardage last year, excelling as a punt returner, receiver and filling in solidly as a running back.

Saskatchewan needed a quarterback because neither Nealon Greene nor Marcus Crandell had really distinguished themselves as the No. 1 guy. The Riders filled a need for a prime receiver because Matt Dominguez missed most of last season with a knee injury, while Armstead can handle return duties.

"I had a feeling that this was on the way and I'm happy. I'm ready to get in there," Joseph told Sun Media. "The fans in Regina are real passionate."

Along with off-season acquisitions such as quarterback Jason Maas, running back Josh Ranek, offensive lineman George Hudson and now Holmes and Gordon, the Tiger-Cats have substantially upgraded their personnel.

In the second round, the Tiger-Cats picked punter Pat Fleming.

Hamilton general manager Rob Katz talked trade with four teams for the first pick, but Saskatchewan had the most interest, clearly eyeing Joseph, who became the Renegades starter early into the 2003 season and full-time after that.

"We wanted a deal that worked for both teams," Katz said.

"We had a couple of needs that we really wanted to fill."

Holmes gives the Tiger-Cats the return specialist they've sorely needed.

"Corey's a very versatile player," Katz said. "Having him and Ranek on the field at the same time poses a lot of problems for other teams ... The bottom line was, if Corey Holmes was in the dispersal draft would we take him first overall? The answer is yes."

The Argos gave away their first pick and fifth overall to Winnipeg in exchange for the Blue Bombers' second-round pick (10th overall) and took non-import defensive lineman Marc Pilon. The Argos also acquired the Blue Bombers' 14th overall pick in the Canadian draft.

With their second pick, the Argos took non-import receiver David Azzi and later took import offensive tackle Sean Poole, import running back Sean Bennett, import wideouts Sean Riley and Roderick (Pinball) Warwick.

Winnipeg had a strong draft taking non-import offensive linemen Ibraham Khan and Val St. Germain, while also picking up young quarterback Brad Banks, who may have been a steal at 13th overall.

Veteran offensive lineman Sandy Annunziata, who was added to the list after the CFL clarified his contract, was not selected. He was owed a bonus scheduled for Saturday. The likelihood is he will become a free agent.


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