Fantuz's status up in the air for Ticats

Andy Fantuz didn't practice with the Ticats yesterday and his status for Thursday's game is up in...

Andy Fantuz didn't practice with the Ticats yesterday and his status for Thursday's game is up in the air.

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:44 PM ET

The Tilley hat Andy Fantuz chose to protect himself from the sun with at Tuesday’s Ticats practice looked rather out of place on him.

His coaches, a few and more than a few years his senior, looked much more at home in the hats.

Suffice to say no one wants to see Fantuz in that hat even one more day if it can be helped and it has nothing to do with fashion choices.

You see, the longer he’s wearing that hat and not his helmet in practice, the longer he’ll be absent from the Ticats offence.

Fantuz got his bell rung in the loss to Calgary last week and while head coach George Cortez is reluctant to call what Fantuz suffered a concussion it is being treated as if it were one.

While a few teammates and at least one coach believe Fantuz will play Thursday in Winnipeg as the Ticats try to improve on its 3-3 record, it will all come down to whether he’s able to practice or not.

Cortez prefers to refer to what Fantuz is experiencing as concussion-like symptoms. He refused to confirm whether in fact what Fantuz suffered last week was an actual concussion.

He wouldn’t even hazard a guess as to whether Fantuz could play Thursday until he at least put on a helmet and took part in practice.

“I know if you’re not practising, you are not playing, that’s for sure,” the head coach said.

What we also know for sure is that Bakari Grant will miss his third consecutive game with a hand injury. Should Fantuz join him on the sidelines, that would be two of the Ticats top three receivers out of action.

Any other team in the CFL would be hard-pressed to deal with that kind of talent loss at the top of its roster but when it comes to receivers, and good ones both home grown and imported, the Ticats have a definite advantage.

Grant’s absence opens a door for Aaron Kelly, who played well when used a year ago as a rookie once he got healthy. It has also meant more touches for import Onrea Jones, who is a gifted receiver in his own right but seems to get overlooked in all the talent the Ticats have at the position.

If Fantuz can’t play on Thursday look for rookie Simon Charbonneau Campeau to expand on the increased role he saw in the second half of the Calgary game when Fantuz was unable to return.

Statistically it was just a three-catch evening for the Sherbrooke product but for a first real audition in the league, it was impressive. Cortez cautioned the Tabbies aren’t ready to put him in the Hall of Fame just yet based on those three catches, but he has liked what he’s seen since the run up to the draft when the Tabbies first noticed him before grabbing him in the fourth round.

Receivers coach Jeremaine Copeland certainly likes what he has seen so far from his young charge.

“He hasn’t been in this league long but what Simon has over most young guys coming into this league is he’s as smart as can be,” Copeland said. “He has picked up this offence real quick. A lot quicker than your usual rookie would and not just his spot but he knows just about every spot on the field. That’s a plus in this offence.”

In Cortez’ offence it is imperative that the receivers be able to play any of the pass catching spots on the roster so at times like these when the injury bug bites, it’s a matter of moving guys around as opposed to bringing new guys in.

Expect to see Charbonneau Campeau line up at fellow Canadian Sam Giguere’s wideout spot with Giguere moving inside to slot.

Giguere is a load to bring down with blazing speed. Moving inside, if that is in fact the case, Giguere will be more involved than ever.

Whether they start that way or end up that way, Cortez said it’s all about being prepared.

“We’re going to have a whole lot of guys filling in there,” he said. “We practised various combinations this week because you don’t know for sure who is playing yet so we try to cover all the bases.”

What Cortez does know is that even in the worst case scenario where Fantuz is unable to start, he has the kind of talent at the receiver spot on the roster, that his offence will continue to be a handful for opposing defences.

 

 


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