Five things we learned from Ticats mini-camp


With the Hamilton Tiger-Cats three-day mini-camp now in the books, here are five things we learned:

1. Achilles has made the Ticats vulnerable.

The season-ending injuries to Spencer Watt and Linden Gaydosh could have an impact on both the team’s ratio structure and draft strategy.

Both players suffered torn Achilles tendons in separate off-season training incidents this spring — neither was at mini-camp this week — and Ticats head coach Kent Austin said the team is still reviewing the implications.

“What we need to do is think about the iterations that would happen in the event we have other injuries and the ripple effect,” Austin said after the final on-field session at McMaster University. “We’re just going through the ‘what if?’ scenarios.”

Austin said, however, that the football implications are secondary to the personal impact these devastating injuries have on the players.

“First and foremost we care about getting the guys healthy and back on the field so they can compete as professional athletes,” Austin said. “The good news is we have some depth especially (at defensive tackle). There’s a lot of different ways we can construct the ratio and our roster.”

2. Peter Dyakowski looks to be all the way back.

One possible solution to the loss of Watt, whose absence will likely leave the Ticats without the option to play two Canadian wide receivers, would be to play three Canadians on the offensive line. And a healthy Dyakowski might allow them to do just that.

Dyakowski is now fully recovered from the torn patella tendon he suffered in the 2013 Grey Cup, an injury that forced him to miss most of last season. But he asked to come to mini-camp — it’s optional for veterans — and showed up 20 pounds lighter.

“That was one individual that we needed to see his ability to move coming off his injury and he really did well. He’s moving as well as he has since we’ve been here,” Austin said. “He looks good, he’s lost some weight and he’s in shape. It’s good for him and good for us.”

3. The new CFL rules will take some getting used to.

The Ticats had three CFL officials at Wednesday’s final mini-camp session so they could help coaches and players get a better handle on the new pass interference rules, which limit contact on a receiver to within five yards of the line of scrimmage.

“We’ve been going back after practice and trying to count where we thought flags might be thrown so we were glad to get them out there,” Austin said. “That type of feedback right as the infraction occurs is important.”

Though it wasn’t raining penalty flags during every drill, there were certainly some exasperated defensive players. The offensive guys, however, were loving it.

“Sometimes I think they passed these new rules just for me,” joked receiver Brandon Banks, who will also benefit from changes to the special teams’ guidelines.

4. Training camp will feature quite the battle at wide receiver.

Among the standouts during mini-camp were American pass catchers Tiquan Underwood and Terrence Tolliver, both of whom were on the Ticats’ neg list for more than a year before signing this spring. Tolliver is 6-foot-5 and made a number of spectacular catches during the week while Underwood showed speed and polish.

Other standouts: speedster Quincy McDuffie, who returned a punt for a score in his only game last season but struggled with injuries, defensive ends Adrian Tracy and Adrian Robinson, linebackers Dan Molls and David Caldwell and defensive backs Ellis Lankster and Julian Posey.

5. Austin likes the progression of his quarterbacks.

Coming into last year’s mini-camp, new starter Zach Collaros was trying to learn the Hamilton offence but he looked far more comfortable with a season under his belt. The same can be said for Jeremiah Masoli and second-year man Jacory Harris. Newcomer Jeff Mathews struggled a little on day one but his understanding of the scheme from his days with Austin at Cornell was apparent.

All three are expected to be in the mix for the back up job behind Collaros at main camp.

“The knowledge of the guys that are back is way different, in particular our quarterbacks,” Austin said.

“Their level of execution, decision-making, delivering the ball on time, anticipation, all those types of things is a lot better right now. That’s a good sign.”

Drew Edwards is the founder of 3DownNation but has since wandered off. Beard in the photo not exactly as shown.