So the first day of Hamilton Tiger-Cats training is in the books. Here are a few things worth knowing:
– as I already reported, all-star return man Brandon Banks didn’t show up for training camp and has been placed on the suspended list. Here’s what head coach Kent Austin had to say about it: “He just has a family issue that he’s dealing with and as soon as he gets it dealt with, he’ll be back up. Hopefully, pretty soon but we’re not pushing it because we’re sensitive to the situation.”
I asked Austin if there was anything else at play – contract issue, unhappiness of some sort – but he says there isn’t.
“It truly is a family issue but I’m not at liberty to share anything about that.”
I’ve reached out to Banks, so far without success (though he did “like” the Tweet featuring Austin’s comments.) I don’t get the sense that there’s anything more to this: Banks was here a couple of weeks ago for the Ticats charity softball game and that’s not something player’s generally do if they are at odds with the club. But we’ll see.
– quarterback Zach Collaros has been placed on the injured veterans’ exempt list, which means he can participate in training camp without taking up a roster spot or counting against the salary cap. He did some on-field drills and threw the ball quite a bit and, quite frankly, looked further along than I thought he’d be. Both he and Austin were cagey about the timetable for his return, however.
– in the battle for the starting quarterback job, Jeremiah Masoli took the first reps with the first-team offence but Jeff Mathews got pretty much equal time with the top unit.
– the Ticats did quite a bit of team work on day one, with the starting offence going against the starting defence. The ratio configuration featured Canadians at three offensive line spots (Ryan Bomben, Mike Filer, Peter Dyakowski,) two receivers (Andy Fantuz and Spencer Watt,) one defensive tackle (Ted Laurent) and one safety (Courtney Stephen.) Hamilton played one national receiver last season and two defensive backs, with Craig Butler at safety and Stephen at the corner. But with Butler hurt, they’ve moved Stephen to the middle and added Watt (who was injured last year to the mix.)
– there were individual special teams drills on day one but no 12-on-12 sessions so we didn’t get a good look at Cody Mandell or Brett Maher, the two kickers in camp at the moment. Austin said he expects the team to add another at some point.
– the Ticats placed offensive tackle Jake Olson (still recovering from a torn patella) and Butler on the six-game injured list while adding Maher and receiver LaQuan Williams to the roster.
– Waterloo Warriors quarterback Lucas McConnell is attending Ticats training camp as part of the CFL’s ongoing effort to get Canadian quarterbacks some pro experience. Previous attendees include former Ottawa Gee Gee Brad Sinopoli, now a receiver with the Redblacks, and Western’s Will Finch.