Getting caught up on the Ticat news (and what it means)

Sometimes a day at the spa is just what a boy needs.

That’s where I was yesterday as my wife and I snuck away for a little two-day mini-vacation in Creemore and Collingwood. We try and fit in a couple of these little trips before the season starts because taking time off  from June to December is a lot tougher. It was pretty much the perfect Sunday-Monday combo: a hike along Osler Ridge, a walk down Creemore’s eclectic main drag, a lovely dinner at Chez Michel, a night at the Creemore House and then a few hours at the Scandinave Spa where one can go from the hot pool to the cold pool and also enjoy the steam room and sauna.

It was quite relaxing, I must say – in part because I more or less shut my phone off (or at least ignored everything work-related.) And, as such, I missed a couple things worth mentioning. Let’s get caught up.

• the Ticats announced the details of their off-season mini-camp, which I mentioned last week. It will be Tuesday, April 26 to Thursday, April 28 and will feature “players that are under contract entering their first CFL season, negotiation list players, and invited free agents.”

In other words, no veterans. The Cats have held this type of camp the last couple of seasons, only going with a full squad the first year Austin took over. They plan on holding the on-field sessions at Tim Hortons Field – though the weather has forced them to Players’ Paradise in past years – and they’ll be open to the public. The full schedule will be released by the team in the coming days.

If you can’t make it, that’s OK – I’ll be there.

• the Ticats also announced the signing of three international players yesterday, defensive linemen Delano Johnson and Terry Redden, and linebacker Charles Clay.

Clay I’ve already written a bit about… he’s 5-foot-10, 205 pounds and spent time on the Ottawa Redblacks practice roster in 2014 after playing for SMU and Hawaii, then getting a shot with the Packers. He knows Ticats’ special teams coach Jeff Reinebold and I would see him competing at both middle and weak side linebacker.

The 28-year-old Johnson is 6-foot-4, 270 pounds and has played 12 games with the Argos since 2014, posting 15 defensive tackles, one special teams tackle, one sack, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. He played his college ball at Bowie State, then had a cup of coffee with the Texans. Like many CFL players, it doesn’t sound like it’s been an easy road for Johnson.

Given his size and the athleticism – he played hoops, too – I would suspect that Johnson will compete for a spot at defensive end. While I think we can pencil in John Chick on one side, the departure of Justin Hickman and the injury to Eric Norwood leaves an opening on the other. Troy Davis and Adrian Tracy will be strong contenders as well.

Some old film on Johnson…

Redden, 22, is 6-foot-2, 295 pounds and attended Panthers training camp last season after playing four seasons at the University of Memphis where he made 31 starts in four seasons. He registered 97 career tackles, including 19 tackles for loss, and 6.5 sacks with the Tigers.

If the Ticats elect to go with an American defensive tackle beside Ted Laurent – and, because of the injury to Craig Butler they may decide to play two Canadians – they’ll need a replacement for Bryan Hall, who signed with the Argos in free agency. Drake Nevis has been with the club a season but didn’t play much so add Redden to the mix.

And this interception from the Panthers pre-season is almost a glorious fat-guy touchdown but he doesn’t quite get there. Still, look at how his teammates react: everybody likes to see a big man rumble.

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