Ticats notebook: Banks to play against the Stamps

By Teri Pecoskie, The Hamilton Spectator

The cheer lives on, even without its cheerleader.

President Matt Afinec said the Tiger-Cats will have a few Oskee Wee Wee surprises in store on Saturday when Hamilton hosts the Calgary Stampeders.

It will be the first time in a long time there will be no Pigskin Pete on hand to lead the iconic cheer.

The man behind the human mascot, Dan Black, resigned suddenly on Tuesday, citing a need to focus time and energy on his family and asking for privacy and respect.

“While the Pigskin Pete character has always played an important role leading the Oskee Wee Wee cheer, we should also acknowledge the vital role the fans in the stands play in contributing to this great tradition, ” Afinec said in an email to The Spectator.

“It is their energy and emotion that fuels this uniquely Hamilton part of the stadium experience.”

In terms of a long-term solution, Afinec said the Tiger-Cats are working on a plan but won’t rush it – they want to ensure they do it the “right way.”

“It’s a very important component of our game-day experience at Tim Hortons Field, and we are well aware of the historical significance of the role and what it means to our fans, ” he said.

***

Ted Laurent is back in Hamilton after travelling to Florida last weekend for the birth of his first child – seven-pound, 11-ounce Xavier.

It’s not easy, he said. He misses his fiancé and, of course, his newborn son.

“It’s kind of weird having to leave, ” the defensive lineman added. “But I get to see them in a few more weeks and it was a blessing. “I was fortunate to see the whole thing and be there on time.”

Laurent, who has 11 tackles, four sacks and one forced fumble in 10 games this season, will return to the lineup Saturday.

Chad Owens was on the sidelines for a second straight practice on Thursday after rolling his ankle in his first official workout with the team early this week. The Tiger-Cats signed the free agent wide receiver on Tuesday.

Owens, 36, previously played for Hamilton in 2016, when he broke his foot two-thirds of the way through the season. He has just three starts since – all late last season with Saskatchewan, which cut him after training camp this year.

His latest injury is on the same leg.

Asked when he thinks he might be back at full speed, Owens said there’s no time frame. He wants to take it slow.

“I’d like to be out there as soon as I can, but it’s not going to help anybody if you’re just thrown in there, ” he added. “Even if I was fully 100 per cent, I don’t think it would be smart.”

Owens also said his priority right now – especially coming off a longer-than-usual off-season and a couple of injury-shortened campaigns – is simply to get his feet under him, no pun intended.

“I’m just happy to be in a locker-room, talking to guys, breaking things down, going to film, ” he said. “Everything that comes along with being part of a team.”

***

Brandon Banks practised on Thursday, but not at full speed.

It was the first time the Tiger-Cats wide receiver has been on the field since Saturday, when he pulled his groin midway through Hamilton’s win over Toronto.

Throughout the week, head coach June Jones has said that Banks – who is second in the league with 1,033 receiving yards – will be in against the Stampeders.

Cornerback Jumal Rolle, meanwhile, continues to be sidelined while undergoing the CFL’s concussion protocol.

He made an early exit against the Argonauts after taking a knee to the head.

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