Ticats ready to test roar vs Argos
By MIKE THOMAS, Special to QMI Agency
|The Argos should get their first look at Ticats new running back Avon Cobourne Saturday when they kick-off their pre-season schedule at the Rogers Centre. (ALEX UROSEVIC/QMI Agency)
HAMILTON - The Tiger-Cats, coming off a somewhat disappointing 2010, hope to re-establish themselves as contenders for the 100th Grey Cup this season.
While the main pieces are in place, major changes in the secondary, at running back, and on special teams has Marcel Bellefeuille and his coaching staff anxious to see how the squad reacts in its first pre-season game Saturday in Toronto against the Argonauts.
Here are a few observations from the first two weeks of training camp.
n Defensive end Stevie Baggs, defensive tackle Justin Hickman, linebacker Markeith Knowlton and receivers Dave Stala and Arland Bruce III appear healthy again after being sidelined with minor injuries earlier in camp. They were all at practice Thursday.
n Knowlton spent a lot of time with the defensive backs instead of the linebackers, perhaps getting accustomed to what could be a very different looking secondary this season.
n Marcus Thigpen, who was primarily a running back and punt returner in 2010 continues to work almost exclusively at wide receiver. Playing in the backfield his whole life until now, Thigpen still think's he'll see a lot of time backing up running back Avon Cobourne but the coaching staff is suggesting he might have a more flexible role.
n With Kevin Glenn cemented as starting quarterback, backups Quinton Porter and Jason Boltus will see their share of action in Saturday's 1 p.m. game at the Rogers Centre. Boltus has had his fair share of snaps over the past few weeks and is someone to keep an eye on.
n As far as kickers are concerned, Eric Wilbur has shown he has no trouble booting the ball down field for punts and kickoffs but at times has had trouble splitting the posts for field goals. Former Argo kicker Justin Medlock has a much more accurate leg but doesn't have Wilbur's kicking distance. If there's roster room, both should make the squad, splitting the duties.
n Wide receiver Maurice Mann's been so vocal this camp he could've been heard over Canucks fans booing Gary Bettman Wednesday night. Beaming with confidence, Mann hasn't been one to shy away from praise or criticism towards his teammates, keeping everyone sharp.
n It'll be nice when 6-foot-5 Aaron Kelly shakes off the 'rookie' tag. The former Clemson University receiver has had a solid two weeks at camp. The coaches are looking forward to seeing him in a game situation.
n Something that's been fun to watch in camp has been rookie receiver Chris Williams hauling in deep passes at Ron Joyce Field. At 155 pounds, Williams has half the body mass of anyone on the Hamilton offensive line but his speed and good hands have kept him in contention for a job.
n With so little clarity in the secondary it seems like a different defensive back is turning heads every day in the Hammer. Sophomore Ryan Hinds was step-for-step with Ticats wide outs Thursday morning, making them fight for the ball the way Hinds and his fellow backs have been fighting for jobs all month.