Landon Rice a big part of Ticats unorthodox o-line

Landon Rice came into training camp prepared, but most Ticat observers assumed the preparation was to play right guard.

Instead, the 29-year-old Landon from Brandon has been one of the talking points of the early CFL season as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ tight end, lining up as the fifth blocker on the line – either side – more than 50 per cent of the time, as June Jones opts for a little extra quarterback protection over an extra target for Jeremiah Masoli.

“I feel that as a player you’re told what the team needs you to do and you go out there and do it, ” says Rice who has, accordingly, gone out there and done it.

For the most part Masoli has had time to find his receivers and the Ticats’ run game has also benefitted immensely, at least for nine big quarters. They didn’t run enough in game one (and lost) and struggled overland after the first quarter of game four (and lost). Between the opener in Calgary and the final three quarters of the (what-really?) loss in Saskatchewan prior to this week’s bye, the Ticat offence owned the ground game.

When all-star Ryan Bomben was traded at draft time, it was anticipated that Rice would step into his spot to the right of centre Mike Filer, with newly-unretired Mathieu Girard also making a pitch for the job once he got back into game shape and size.

Rice was entering his sixth year in Hamilton after being signed as an undrafted free agent in 2013. He spent his first year on the practice roster; dressed for all 18 plus the Eastern Final and Grey Cup, with a handful of starts, the following year; missed half of 2015 with injury; and as a backup got some starts and rotational action the next couple of years.

But as training camp progressed it became clear that Rice would play tight end when Jones wants one – which is a lot – and No. 6 overall draft choice Darius Ciraco was going to play right guard. Meanwhile, Girard is still recovering from a camp injury.

“I was working (at guard) all training camp, but at the same time I was working at tight end and I think at the end of the day they just wanted to put the best group they could out there, ”

Rice says, noting that he also played a lot of tight end in 2014, including during the Grey Cup loss to Calgary.

“I had a few starts here and there, but it was mostly tight end all the way into the Grey Cup.”

Jones has praised Rice’s play and joked that “we’re going to throw him a pass soon.”

He was just planting a public seed for opposing defensive

co-ordinators to consider, but Rice wouldn’t mind the chance. He was the team’s regular-season leading scorer in his senior year at Crocus Plains Regional Secondary School in Brandon, Man. He played a lot of fullback and tight end, and when he went to the line, it was on defence.

“It was nine-man football. That’s all we had. It was the

Rural Manitoba Football League, Brandon and a bunch of small towns. They transitioned to 12-man a couple of years after I left.”

He did play 12-man football during his final years of high school, but it was provincial ball. He was with the Football Manitoba when it won the Canada Cup title in 2005.

He later played five years at the University of Manitoba, helping the Bisons to the 2007 Vanier Cup. He’s playing at 300 pounds now, down from 325 to 330, and it’s one of the reasons he’s been able to work the outside of the line so well this year.

“I had a good off-season, ” he said.

“I leaned out a bit and they like me out there. Losing the weight was on me: critiquing myself and how I played. One of my goals was to get a little more fast twitch, a little faster, better side-to-side for lateral coverage.

“You just prepare yourself for a good season. I feel like I’m having success out there and I’m to feel like I’m making a contribution, ” he added.

Steve Milton

Steve Milton

Steve Milton is a long-time columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame media wing in 2012.
Steve Milton
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Steve Milton
About Steve Milton (233 Articles)
Steve Milton is a long-time columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame media wing in 2012.

10 Comments on Landon Rice a big part of Ticats unorthodox o-line

  1. Paul Bomber // July 10, 2018 at 9:16 am //

    They grow ’em big and tough out on the prarries! Nice to see a few Mb boys making noise this year.

  2. Coaches on all sides are smart and creative, and Chris Jones’ defence in that last game may be indicating other teams are catching on. A TE makes five blockers, and if the running back stays in to block, subtract the QB and you’ve got max 5 receivers. Seem to me, and if JJ is a smart as he seems, we’ll start to see a second level of his offence; with more things like read/option running plays, delayed screens to the RB who reads and slips out, play/action motion, and yes, passes to the TE.

    During the off-season Jones said that you have to change about 20% of your offence on a yearly basis, just to stay ahead. I don’t think you can dismiss during-season changes either!

  3. Apologize for the math screw-up; a TE makes SIX blockers on the line, so minus RB and QB means FOUR receivers available on that set.

  4. Enrico Arcuri // July 10, 2018 at 10:15 am //

    Any news on the Chapman front ?

  5. I am glad that Rice has hung around so long as a backup and did not jump to another team. I was surprised that he did not start at right guard but it is easy to see that the tight end spot that he is playing probably required his additional experience.

  6. Shouldn’t it be the 6th blocker?
    1 center 2 guards 2 tackles and the tight end equals 6.

    Throw the guy a pass. Preferably in the end zone.

  7. Ron Tuthill // July 10, 2018 at 1:13 pm //

    Iggy, he saw his mistake and fixed it with his next post because he knew that everyone would be all over that. I am also glad that Landon has stuck around as it can’t hurt to have a 300+ lb. blocker on the line. At the time I thought it was an astute move by Drew to bring in a 300+lb. lineman who had gone undrafted. He has turned out to be a fine football player and one of Mazoli’s six favorite buddies.

  8. Ron Tuthill // July 10, 2018 at 1:15 pm //

    Iggy, he saw his mistake and fixed it with his next post because he knew that everyone would be all over that. I am also glad that Landon has stuck around as it can’t hurt to have a 300+ lb. blocker on the line. At the time I thought it was an astute move by Drew to bring in a 300+lb. lineman who had gone undrafted. He has turned out to be a fine football player and one of Masoli’s six favorite buddies.

  9. Rice is a good dude who’s shown loyalty to the TiCats. Many O-lineman don’t hit their prime until 30 so he’s on schedule there.

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