It’s not just who’s injured, it’s where they’re from.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have been decimated by injuries the last few weeks, not only robbing them of some significant talent but severely impacting their Canadian depth. In a league where national players make up nearly half the roster – including seven starters – that poses a serious challenge heading into Monday’s key Labour Day match up with the Argonauts.
The Ticats added four players to the six-game injured list on Tuesday. American defensive end Eric Norwood and defensive back Johnny Sears as well as Canadian safety Mike Daly and linebacker Byron Archambault. Norwood, Sears and Daly all started last week in the loss to Montreal while Archambault is a key special teams contributor.
It gets worse. Two starting Canadian offensive lineman, guards Peter Dyakowski and Ryan Bomben, missed practice on Tuesday, as did national punter Hugh O’Neill. The team’s other starting defensive end, Justin Hickman, and another Canadian special teamer (Beau Landry) also sat out.
Nor do reinforcements appear to be on the way: running backs C.J. Gable and Anthony Woodson, as well as receivers Andy Fantuz and Bakari Grant still aren’t practicing.
For the moment, the Ticats do not appear to be changing their ratio. Veteran Tim O’Neill and Landon Rice were at the guard spots on Tuesday, while Craig Butler was back at his usual spot at safety.
At defensive end, Adrian Tracy was in for Norwood while Canadian Arnaud Gascon-Nadon was in Hickman’s spot. Ed Gainey was at the boundary corner in place of Sears while Justin Medlock will handle all three kicking duties if O’Neill can’t go.
To compensate for the losses, the Ticats made a number of roster moves. Gainey, along with receiver Junior Collins and linebacker Dan Molls were added to the active roster while American running back Ronnie Wingo and two Canadians, defensive back Jarret Chapman and linebacker Louis Mensah were added to the practice roster.
With an extended, 11-day stretch between games the Ticats will hope to have at least some of their injured players back before facing the Argos – they are off again tomorrow before resuming their normal three-day practice routine. But there seems little question that they’ll be playing short-handed on Monday.