Veteran Ticats linemen engage in “trench etiquette”

Sometimes, it’s the little things I love about training camp.

During the helmet-and-shoulder pads session this morning, the linemen were going at it in a one-on-one drill. The contests are quick and violent, an offensive player squaring off against a defensive counterpart in a simulated pass protection situation. Players rotate through and with so many bodies in camp, a guy might only get two or three opportunities.

Veteran offensive tackle Brian Simmons did his reps this morning, then prepared to switch out for one of the several rookie Americans in camp. But defensive end John Chick, who was up next, grabbed Simmons’ arm and gestured to his spot. The message was pretty clear: I want to go against you.

Simmons obliged him.

“It’s trench etiquette. I locked him down pretty good yesterday and our reps are limited here and he wanted to even things out,” Simmons said afterwards. “He won today. I guess he’ll sleep better tonight.”

Simmons and Chick have faced each other several times before and became teammates this off-season when both signed in Hamilton as a free agents.

“I’ve played against him and I’ve respected him but we’ve never really talked,” Simmons said. “When camp started he told me he thought I was good player and that was really nice to hear.”

Chick chuckled when asked him about it.

“You always want to go against the best and every time I can, I’m going to do that,” he said. “We’ve been rivals for a long time and it’s now we’re teammates and I see how hard he works.”

Simmons played four-plus seasons with the Ticats before being dealt to Edmonton last year. He re-signed in Hamilton – he lives here in the off-season as well – and is trying to retake a starting spot he lost last spring. Going up against Chick is a pretty good test.

“He’s quick, savvy and he’s got a high motor. When you put a good block most ends, they deflate a little bit. Chick goes right to the whistle, no matter what,” Simmons said. “I feel like this is one of my better starts to a training camp. But I came in here with something to prove and we still have such a long way to go.”

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