Austin apologizes to Ticats for Stala bump (and other news)

Hamilton Tiger-Cats head coach Kent Austin has apologized to his team for bumping Toronto Argonauts receiver Dave Stala during the Ticats’ 35-27 win on Friday night.

He probably didn’t need to.

“He obviously feels like he’s done something wrong but we don’t care,” said veteran defensive end Justin Hickman. “We knew he was competitor and sometimes emotions run high. He took ownership and now we move on.”

Austin issued a public apology on Sunday and spoke to Stala, a former Ticat who played under Austin in 2013, over the weekend.

“I have a good relationship with Dave and I just told him that there’s no excuse and if he wanted to hold hard feelings, that was OK, it wasn’t going to change the way I felt about him,” Austin said. “He said, ‘no, coach, we’re good.'”

Austin also said he had no issue with the CFL Players’ Association, who issued a press release on Monday saying they were “disappointed” by the $5,000 fine levied by the CFL.

“I understand that they have a responsibility to give their slant on the situation and I’ll let you all discuss the merits of that position,” Austin said.

Hickman, who played with Stala in Hamilton for three seasons starting in 2009, says he figures his former teammate is likely getting a kick out of the trouble he’s caused.

“In two games we’ve played he’s walked by and pinched me hard enough to almost take skin off my arm,” Hickman said. “I wish it had been me: I’ve wanted to slap Stala, too.”

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The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have traded a quarterback they didn’t need for a draft pick they may never see.

Former Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd, who has been on the Ticats’ negotiation list for several seasons, was dealt to the Blue Bombers for a conditional draft pick in 2017. Hamilton and Winnipeg will swap mid-round picks depending on the number of games Boyd is on the active roster next season.

With a 27-year-old starter in Zach Collaros and a pair of young back ups in Jeff Mathews (24) and Jacory Harris (25) – all versed in the Ticats’ offensive system – the Ticats didn’t need another young quarterback (Boyd is also 24.)

Boyd started three seasons for Clemson from 2011 to 2013 and set school records with 11,904 passing yards and 107 touchdowns for his career. He was the MVP of the 2013 Orange Bowl, tallying 505 total yards in a 40-35 victory over Ohio State.

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The Hamilton Tiger-Cats appear to be in on the Henoc Muamba sweepstakes.

Sources say the Canadian linebacker visited the club on Saturday, touring the team’s facilities at Tim Hortons Field and meeting with the coaching staff.

Muamba was the first overall pick in 2011 CFL Draft and played three seasons with the Bombers, registering 171 defensive and 53 special teams tackles while being named a league all-star in 2013. He played last season with the Indianapolis Colts of the NFL but was released earlier this month.

At 6-feet, 230 pounds, Muamba can play both weak side and middle linebacker but would likely make an immediate contribution on special teams. The Ticats have a number of Canadian starters scheduled to hit free agency after this season so adding Muamba would certainly help offset any potential loses.

But Hamilton is hardly the only team interested in Muamba’s services. The 26-year-old has met with Winnipeg and the B.C. Lions and is expected to travel to Edmonton later this week. He’ll likely command a hefty signing bonus and a three-year contract in the $200,000 range.

Muamba was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but grew up in Mississauga so the Ticats are close to home. They’ve also built a strong organization under general manager and head coach Kent Austin and playoff bonuses can help increase a player’s salary.

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Notes: linebacker Simoni Lawrence, defensive back Emanuel Davis and return man Brandon Banks were limited in practice on Tuesday but Austin said they’re all expected to play versus Edmonton on Saturday. Guard Ryan Bomben, who dressed Friday versus the Argos but did not play, is also a possibility… Banks appeared to take some cheap shots from Argo players last Friday and is still a little sore. “I think the league is pretty responsible at looking at all incidents and I trust their wisdom on that,” Austin said… receiver Bakari Grant is getting closer to a return but is unlikely to play this week while fellow receiver Andy Fantuz and running back C.J. Gable are still a few weeks away.

 

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