The Hamilton Tiger-Cats, trying to make the best of things in the wake of the one injury they could not afford, look like they’ve dodged another two injury bullets aimed at critical positions.
It appears that both defensive end Eric Norwood and centre Mike Filer will be in the starting lineup for Friday night’s game against the visiting Saskatchewan Roughriders.
“We’ll see after today, we’ll see how he responds to a lot more work than he’s had in the last couple of days, ” Kent Austin said of Filer, who was hurt in last Friday’s loss to Calgary, and looked doubtful early in the week. “I feel fairly positive about it, unless I hear differently.
“Norwood looks good but, again, the nature of these things is that if there’s any kind of setback with a limited roster, we have to be careful.”
Norwood tore his MCL after S.J. Green hit him – “it was a clean block, my foot just caught the turf” – in late August against Montreal. After injuring his leg in what was called a “household accident” in the spring, he didn’t play a game until August and, so far, has played only in August.
But what an August it was. In five games, he returned two fumbles for touchdowns, made 18 tackles and was credited with five quarterback sacks and joined done-for-the-year Zach Collaros as the Ticats took two of the three CFL player-of-the-month awards.
Adrian Tracy had done an admirable job replacing him but he was injured in Friday’s game and is unavailable this week.
The Ticats finished Friday’s game with Canadian Arnaud Gascon-Nadon at defensive end and would have gone that way again Friday had Norwood been unable to return to action.
“They wouldn’t put me out here and risk it just for one game if I wasn’t ready, ” Norwood said after practice Wednesday. “And I wouldn’t let them put me at risk if I wasn’t ready, so it was a mutual decision.
“It’s the second time for me this season missing a month at a time, it’s been crazy.”
If Filer isn’t able to play Friday, the Cats would be in a precarious position on the offensive line, at the same time as they’re trying to ramp up protection for rookie quarterback Jeff Mathews, Collaros’ replacement. But he and guard Peter Dyakowski, who has suffered a number of nagging hurts, seem ready to go, which would put Landon Rice back into a reserve role rather than playing the whole game.
On that same side of the ball, Austin says that injured receiver Terrence Toliver, who hasn’t practised this week, could play if he’s physically ready. But it’s likely Tiquan Underwood gets the call.
Defensively, the Ticats still have to decide whether it’ll be recent incumbent Ed Gainey or ex-Argo Jalil Carter at boundary corner, but both will be part of the defensive back complement.
The most important personnel improvement the Cats need to make Friday, though, is for Mathews to continue to move his game forward.
NOTES: Punt returner Marcus Thigpen, who played for the Ticats in 2010 and ’11, has been released by the Buffalo Bills. In 2010, Thigpen became the first CFL player to score a touchdown in five different ways during the same season: kickoff return, punt return, missed field goal return, running play and pass reception. He also returned a punt for a touchdown as a Miami Dolphin in his first NFL game in 2012 … The uprights of the goal posts in the south end of Tim Hortons Field, bent by the harsh weekend winds, were replaced in time for Wednesday’s practice. Kent Austin said he’d never seen that before. The cross bar and uprights comprise three different pieces in the Tim Hortons Field goal posts, while Ivor Wynne’s were solid state.