The 2015 edition of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats training camp came to a close on Wednesday, and given the number of injuries the team has suffered this spring, that’s probably a good thing.
Head coach Kent Austin has watched as player after player went down, including Canadian defensive tackle Brian Bulcke, receiver Luke Tasker, the team’s top three running backs and a pair of top-tier offensive linemen.
“If we had a longer camp maybe we could get some more guys healthy before the regular season,” Austin joked Wednesday.
The team will play its final pre-season game Friday in Winnipeg against the Blue Bombers. Zach Collaros will get the start at quarterback with Jeremiah Masoli, who didn’t see action in the first exhibition game, also getting some playing time.
“Zach will start for us and we’ll play it a little bit by ear and see how that goes, but we’ll give him enough time to where he feels comfortable enough to be ready for the regular season,” Austin said.
While the second pre-season game is usually an opportunity for the projected starters on both sides of the ball to get some playing time, the Ticats are expected to keep a number of big names at home — particularly on defence — as they look to guard against further injury.
Austin would hold more starters out if he could.
“There are some positions where we would like to but we can’t because we don’t have any depth and we have a game to play,” he said. “We couldn’t cancel the game, could we? I guess that’s not available as an option.”
While injuries have certainly tested Austin’s patience, he points out that Friday will be the final opportunity for those players on the bubble to showcase their skills.
“It would have been nice to have a full roster for all of training camp but everybody deals with it,” he said. “We’ll be ready to play and we’re confident in the guys that we have.”
Notes: Austin didn’t have an update on Luke Tasker, who suffered what the team calls a “lower body” injury on Sunday … The Ticats are not live-streaming Friday’s game. Investors Group Field in Winnipeg is being transitioned from hosting FIFA Women’s World Cup soccer matches, and there isn’t time to get the infrastructure in place. The game will be on radio at 1150 CKOC … Ticats great Angelo Mosca attended Wednesday’s practice … The Bombers are expected to start Drew Wily at quarterback.