Magic Eight Ball: Things we learned from Ticats mini-camp

The Ticats wrapped up three days of mini-camp on a beautiful Thursday with a final session at Tim Hortons Field. Here are eight things we learned.

1. Of the nearly 50 players on the roster, expect about two dozen or so to be invited back for main camp at the end of May. Vice-president of football operations and head coach Kent Austin gathered everybody at mid-field at the conclusion of the last practice to thank the players for their effort. For some of these players, this will be their last experience in professional football.

2. The seven kickers held one final kicking session on Thursday morning and it’s likely three will be back for main camp: former Winnipeg Blue Bomber Sergio Castillo, ex-Buffalo Bill Jordan Gay and 31-year-old Craig Peterson, who most recently kicked in the Arena League.

3. Receiver Brian Tyms, who played two games with the team at the tail end of last season, had a strong camp and will likely be in contention for a starting job alongside Terrence Tolliver and Luke Tasker. Another pass catcher who stood out was Ed Williams, who made a number of tough catches, including an impressive one-hander over the middle on Thursday. Felix Flaubert-Lussier, who was taken in the fifth round of the 2016 CFL Draft, has cut 15 pounds and looked quicker and more agile than he did at training camp last season.

4. The Ticats need to upgrade their secondary and some strong candidates may have emerged this week, including former New York Giant and Baltimore Raven Will Hill, who has 32 NFL starts to his credit but ran afoul of the league’s substance abuse policy (he’s been suspended four times, reportedly for marijuana use.) Other defensive backs who had a solid week: Cheatham Norrils, Keon Lyn and Cleshawn Page.

5. With the team likely to start two American offensive tackles this season, they’ll need some depth behind (and competition for) veterans Xavier Fulton and Jeremy Lewis. UCLA alum Malcolm Bunche looked solid, as did former Bruin Torian White. Jordan Swindle may have done enough to warrant a longer look as well.

6. New special teams coordinator Dennis McKnight certainly made a sizable first impression. A former NFL offensive lineman and long snapper who spent 12 years in the league, the 57-year-old coaches with an impressive amount of energy and volume.

7. Quarterback Matt Johnson got a number of compliments on his flashy powder blue high top cleats, which he borrowed from a former teammate before a recent workout. But given that they could easily be mistaken for Toronto Argonaut colours, Johnson says he’ll retire them if and when he returns for main camp (and given what he showed the last couple of days, it’s likely he will.)

8. Up next for the Ticats: figure out the ratio or where they want to start their seven national players on offence and defence. The team has plenty of Canadian talent – they could likely start as many as 11 – but it’s spread over a number of positions, which is great for flexibility but makes roster planning more difficult. Once they decide a general direction, they can dial in their draft strategy and fill in the rest of the training camp roster.

Must Read