With a short week and just two practices, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats will make only two changes in their defensive configuration for Thursday night’s home game against the undefeated Edmonton Eskimos.
Will Hill’s return from a one-game suspension means he can resume his role at SAM linebacker, where versatile Keon Lyn filled in last week. Lyn, more naturally suited to cornerback, moves to boundary corner, which removes Ethan Davis, the starter in last week’s 41-26 loss to the BC Lions, from the roster.
Terrence Frederick, who started nine games in Winnipeg’s defensive backfield last year and was signed as a free agent last week, comes onto the roster as a back-up defensive back.
Otherwise, the defence remains the same as the one picked apart by Lions’ quarterback Travis Lulay. There will be no changes to the offence’s starting dozen…
“It’s what we feel right now is the most competitive group on the field,” Austin said of the secondary. ‘”That doesn’t mean there won’t be more changes going forward. Obviously, we’re still waiting for (injured starting defensive halfbacks) Abdul (Kanneh) and Chop (Emanuel Davis) to come back, and that will have a domino effect on the roster.”
Built for short side?
Lyn, who played indoor football in 2016 but last week made his first start in an outdoor game in nearly four years, stayed on the field by himself for heavy sprints after Tuesday’s practice.
“I’m playing catch-up right now.” says the 6-foot-1, 205-pound 25-year-old out of Syracuse. “I saw enough last week to make me want to work, so I have to get some extra conditioning. I’ve got to be able to go a full game and not feel winded.”
Lyn played the wide side of the field in college ball and in NFL camps, but is more suited to the short side here, he says, because of his body type.
“Boundary corner is where you get most of the throws,” he reasons. “That’s where the standard No. 1 (receiver) is mostly stationary. It’s best for a long guy to press him, so that’s my role in this game.”
But he’ll probably play quarterback
Mike Reilly is ranked only sixth in CFL passing yards, but the Eskimos are off to a 3-0 start, despite mounting injuries. Uncannily accurate, Reilly has the second highest completion percentage in the league and hasn’t thrown an interception.
Hamilton defensive end Adrian Tracy, who rushes the passer but also drops off in coverage at time, is well aware of how dangerous Reilly can be. The Ticats actually controlled him quite well — cumulative 369 passing yards and 56 per cent completion rate– in two home games late last season, including the “eastern’ semifinal, but the Eskimos won each game by three points.
“He’s a dynamic quarterback, he’s a champion, a proven winner, extremely competitive and tough,” Tracy said. “No matter where he is on the field—I don’t care if he lines up at quarterback, wide receiver or offensive lineman—you have to keep your eye on him and make sure you know what his strengths are.”
They didn’t ask but…
Free of charge, here are a couple of suggestions for the Ticats Thursday night: to enable you to stretch the field more with viable throws to Jalen Saunders, use C.O. Prime even more than he has been as a tight end or second blocker in the backfield. It doesn’t help for Zach Collaros to have an extra receiver if he doesn’t have time to be selective.
And stop sending defensive tackle Ted Laurent, on 70-yard trips from the bench to the deep red zone for one or two defensive plays. Of all the defenders, he’s the one whose energy you need to conserve most.
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