Ticats loaded at receiver
By MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency
|The Tiger-Cats have a boatload of capable receivers at training camp, including Canadian Dave Stala. (Reuters file photo)
TORONTO - If there is a CFL team whose cutdown day is going to be more closely watched than the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, we would be very surprised.
The Ticats have a wealth of receivers in camp and, barring some creative injuries, there is no way they can hang on to them all.
The Tabbies are loaded in Canadian receivers with Dave Stala, Andy Fantuz and newcomer Sam Giguere all capable of starting. On in the import side, the Cats boast speedster and reigning rookie of the year Chris Williams, Bakari Grant, who was arguably their best receiver at the end of last season, Terrence Jeffers-Harris and the lanky and normally sure-handed Aaron Kelly.
And that doesn’t even include a talented crop of import receivers led by Onrea Jones the team has brought in.
For a team such as the Argos, who are riddled with injuries at the receiver position and searching to find a corps that can take advantage of Ricky Ray’s magic touch throwing the football, riches like the Ticats have at the position clearly puts them on Toronto’s radar.
The Ticats didn’t even take Fantuz or Grant to Winnipeg with them for the second and final pre-season game on Wednesday night — a contest in which they led early, then hung on for a 26-25 victory.
Chances are pretty good those two are safe. You can probably say the same for Giguere and Stala.
But after that, the Ticats are going to have to make some tough decisions and someone else in the league is going to benefit hugely when they do.
HANK AND THE HAMMER
Henry Burris clearly was looking to make a statement.
Obviously, he knew this was merely an exhibition game, but the passion and determination he played his one half of football with Wednesday night strongly suggests he was on some kind of mission.
Burris, and Buck Pierce for that matter, played this exhibition like it was every bit as important as a regular-season game.
And maybe for Burris it was.
A veteran, passed over in one city for a younger guy when it looked like his skills might be diminishing, gets another chance in a new city and he wants to put all that talk to rest.
Burris threw for 188 yards in the half, completing 16 of 22 tosses, but it was his show-no-fear running style that had to endear him to his new teammates (all the while making head coach George Cortez a little nervous).
Burris carried the ball 10 times for 91 yards, more carries than backs Avon Cobourne and Chevon Walker combined in that first half.
At one point, Burris took what looked to be a helmet-to-helmet hit near the Winnipeg goal line. Even that worked out as Burris walked away unscathed but not before big Pete Dyakowski showed his teammates what it means to stand up for one of his own when he threw all of his 325 pounds at the Winnipeg player that put the lick on Burris.
It cost him a 15-yard penalty but in the pre-season, plays like that tend to set a tone for a team and that can only be a good thing for the Ticats.
Huge kudos to Matt Dunigan who has never been comfortable being overly critical of players, but told it exactly the way he saw it when broadcast partner Rod Black began to suggest Burris’ departure from Calgary might have been a case of the Stamps hanging the old guy out to dry. Dunigan was having none of that. “Everyone saw it. He did have a diminishing skill set,” Dunigan said making it an easy decision for the Stamps to go with Drew Tate. But as critical as he was of Burris’ play last season, he was equally complimentary of what he has done since he got to Hamilton .... The Winnipeg kicking situation looks rather shaky. Justin Palardy and Eric Wilbur both missed makeable field goals in the first half. As the incumbent, Palardy probably hangs on to the job .... And while we are handing out kudos to broadcasters, a special nod to Chris Schultz who pointed out that Winnipeg may have gotten to the Grey Cup a year ago, but still won only four of its final 12 games and has plenty of improving to do if it is going to repeat as Eastern Conference champion.