Ticats toughen up on defence
By MIKE THOMAS, Special to QMI Agency
|Hamilton's second-year DB Ryan Hinds tracks down Ticat receiver Arland Bruce III during team drills earlier this spring at Ivor Wynne Stadium. (ALEX UROSEVIC/QMI Agency)
HAMILTON - The Tiger-Cats opened training camp with plenty of questions about their defensive secondary and a healthy mix of youth and veterans competing for several available slots.
Each defensive back will be looking to make a lasting impression when the Ticats open their pre-season Saturday at the Rogers Centre against the Argonauts.
“Everybody’s looked at individually,” said Jerome Dennis, Hamilton’s longest tenured defensive back. “I feel I could play any position in the secondary and be dominant, it’s really up to where the coaches want to put me.”
Heading into his fifth year in the CFL, Dennis is a safe bet to crack the roster but will still face pressure adjusting to a new style of play from defensive coordinator Corey Chamblin.
“We’re going to be real physical,” said Dennis. “We want to be very technically sound, pay attention to detail and our technique.”
After giving up more yards than anyone in the CFL last year a style change was needed on defence.
“We’re looking to see them be more aggressive,” said head coach Marcel Bellefeuille following Tuesday’s Ticat workouts. “We have the players (we need), now it’s just a matter of finding which ones they are.”
Second-year back Ryan Hinds has looked sharp at camp and is likely to open the season in the Hamilton secondary. For him, confidence has been key in making an impression.
“Last year in camp I was always really nervous, always watching over my back,” said Hinds. “I’ve got to just make sure I’m doing what I’ve got to do when I’m on the field.”
Early in camp, Chamblin suggested that with such an open audition for defensive backs there might be a few rookies who find themselves in the lineup. Those rookies have remained impressive, including 24-year-old Chris Rwabukamba who’s grabbed the attention of his teammates and coaches.
“Everyone’s excited about Chris coming in and playing as well as he has,” said Hinds. “A lot of the young guys have come out and shown that they can do a lot of stuff.”
Knowing the long road ahead of him, Rwabukamba said can’t afford a drop-off.
“I think I’m doing pretty well,” said Rwabukamba, a Windsor, Ont., native who played cornerback at Duke University last season. “There’s spots out there to grab but you’ve got to go out there and do what you were taught. Everything will fall into place.”