More than a week after the start of Hamilton Tiger-Cats training camp, all-star return man Brandon Banks still hasn’t arrived — and there’s no indication as to when he might show up.
“I don’t have an update on him,” said head coach Kent Austin on Wednesday when asked about Banks.
Banks is reportedly dealing with a family-law issue that the Canadian Football League team would like to see resolved before he returns to Canada to resume his football career. Austin said he hasn’t spoken to him personally, however.
“We have missed each other but we have been in communication with his family,” Austin said.
Banks was named the CFL’s most outstanding special-teams player last season when he returned four kicks for touchdowns and finished third in the league in combined yards. But Austin said the team is preparing for life without their diminutive superstar.
“Our approach has been to prepare our football team with the players that are here,” Austin said. “If he’s back sooner than expected, great. If it takes longer, then we took the right approach.”
The Ticats have some injuries piling up at the Canadian defensive-tackle spot.
All-star Ted Laurent and sophomore Evan Gill have been out since late last week and now Linden Gaydosh is down, as well. Austin said the injuries to Laurent and Gaydosh aren’t serious, while Gill may miss the rest of training camp.
Austin said it is unlikely Laurent would have played in the first pre-season game on Saturday so there’s no reason to rush him back. Gaydosh has experience, as well.
“These guys have been in the system and they know what they’re doing, what the expectations are,” Austin said.
But defensive tackle is a spot where the Ticats are absolutely planning to start a Canadian — there was even talk they could start two — and injuries at that spot could cause ratio issues down the road.
In other injury news, offensive lineman Mike Filer sat out for a second straight day with stitches in his thumb. Sophomore Mathieu Girard took the first-team reps at centre, while first-round draft pick Brandon Revenberg also filled in. Linebacker Troy Davis is also still out and Alex Hoffman-Ellis has been taking first reps at middle linebacker the past few days.
Former Ole Miss and Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt addressed the Ticat players after practice Monday.
Austin served as Nutt’s offensive co-ordinator at the University of Mississippi from 2008 to ’10 and he has a long-standing friendship with Hamilton general manager Eric Tillman.
“He’s a great friend and a man that took a chance on me to come coach at my alma mater. I had two unbelievable years with him,” Austin said. “He’s a wonderful person, he’s a great coach and it’s not very often as a player that you get the opportunity to hear from a guy like that.”
Nutt, who now works as a college football analyst for CBS television, gave a short, impassioned speech after the on-field session.
“I told the players to embrace this moment, that they have something special,” he said. “They’ve been knocking on the door and the thing that’s going to make the difference is togetherness.”
The Ticats will soon begin preparing for Saturday’s pre-season game against Toronto so let’s take a look at the depth chart as it stands after eight days of training camp.