Last Ticats practice in Calgary and there’s plenty of news to pass along both from here in Cowtown and around the league. Let’s get to it.
• defensive end Justin Hickman returned to practice on Tuesday after being excused by the team the first two days. He’ll play Thursday against Winnipeg.
• look for Adrian Tracy to get the start at the other end spot, taking the place of Sam Scott, who started last week for the injured Eric Norwood (got all that?). Tracy had four sacks in the pre-season and has looked good this week.
• the team is definitely making a change at right tackle where Jeremy Lewis will take over from Brian Simmons. Joel Figueroa practiced a bit more this week but still doesn’t look to be 100 per cent. Simmons is healthy I just think the Ticats want to give Lewis a shot.
• head coach Kent Austin says there’s a chance Hugh O’Neill could handle the punting duties against the Bombers. He took some reps with the first team unit today, though I don’t think a final decision has been made. To get him on the roster, the Ticats would have to take another Canadian off, likely rookie linebacker Ron Omara.
There’s also a chance the Ticats put O’Neill on the active roster just so he can’t be claimed off the practice roster by the Toronto Argonauts, who are going to need a kicker after it was announced today that Swayze Waters will miss four-to-six weeks with a torn quad.
• there may also be a change at the boundary corner where Donald Washington took some first teams reps this week in place of Ed Gainey, who had a tough night in week one against the Stamp’s Jeff Fuller. I don’t think a final decision has been made on this issue, either.
• there were some interesting news items around the league. The Argos have signed former Hamilton receiver and first overall pick Chris Bauman, joining fellow Canadian receiver and ex-Ticat Dave Stala with the Double Blue.
• the Esks have announced that quarterback Mike Reilly sustained a torn posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), a partially torn medial collateral ligament (MCL) and medial meniscal tear in his left knee. The club said estimated recovery time is approximately 10-to-12 weeks. Given all the damage to Reilly’s knee, it’s a miracle his ACL survived intact. Following the projected timeline, Reilly could make his return Aug. 21 against Hamilton.
• the Ticats, the CFL and the Canadian Football Hall of Fame have put together a proposal that would move the Hall to Tim Hortons Field as soon as 2016. From the release:
The plan for the relocation of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame to Tim Hortons Field includes making Hamilton and Tim Hortons Field its permanent home. It will also bring back the marquee Hall of Fame game to Hamilton for the next 5 years, starting in 2016. One key feature of the plan will see the Hall’s centrepiece artifacts, the Hall of Fame busts of its members, featured in a state of the art “studio” on the grounds of Tim Hortons Field. In addition, historic trophies, photos, plaques and artifacts from the Hall’s collection would also be strategically placed in fan accessible locations around the stadium.
I don’t know enough about this yet to pass judgment on it but having the Ticats and the CFL more involved with the Hall is a positive step.
• the CFL has also launched a new players-of-the-week initiative. Again from the release:
Top Performers of the Week will recognize the three top performers, regardless of the position they play or whether they are national or international players, and it will give fans an opportunity to choose their favourite.
Each week and month during the CFL regular season, a panel of esteemed CFL experts – former CFL standouts and popular broadcasters Matt Dunigan, Duane Forde and Pierre Vercheval — will vote on the three top CFL Performers across the league in order.
When the three players have been announced, @CFL will tweet out three tweets for each player. The player that receives the most re-tweets prior to the first game of the following week will be crowned the Shaw Fans’ Choice of the Week.
Personally, I liked the old system, which selected a player from offence, defence, special teams as well as a top Canadian. This week’s winners were two quarterbacks (Trevor Harris and Drew Wily) and a receiver (Jeff Fuller) and I think it will skew heavily towards the skill positions each week. The CFL has team and league awards for defence, special teams and Canadian, so I don’t think it makes a ton of sense to eliminate them from the weekly awards.
And as much as I’m for fan participation, the fact that the Twitter contest won’t be decided until just before the following week’s games is also odd: I doubt most fans will care by then.
• I’m on my way to Winnipeg this evening and will have more leading into Thursday’s game. Thanks Calgary, it’s been a steak time.