Seven reasons you should care about the Ticats pre-season game

Hamilton travels to Ottawa for their first pre-season game on Thursday night (7:30 p.m. on TSN TV, 1150 TSN Radio) and while Hamilton’s lineup will be without much of its star power — quarterback Zach Collaros, linebacker Simoni Lawrence, running back C.J. Gable, defensive end John Chick, defensive back Abdul Kanneh and defensive tackle Ted Laurent are all sitting out — there are plenty of interesting storylines at play.

1. Kick or get off the tee. Neither Sergio Castillo or Andrew Hawkins have anything close to a stranglehold on the kicking job and head coach Kent Austin has emphasized that the pre-season games will go a long way toward the final determination. If both guys struggle, the Ticats may begin looking for outside solutions: there was a report out of Vancouver that has Hamilton general manager Eric Tillman kicking the tires on Ty Long, who was brought in to keep Swayze Waters company.

2. Beg, borrow or Swindle. The Ticats need a starting right offensive tackle and newcomer Jordan Swindle has the inside track after the first 10 days of training camp. He gets the start on Thursday and a solid performance could earn him a starting job week 1. Canadian Everton Williams, who had a good start to camp but has since regressed, needs to show he can fill a valuable back up role heading into the season while rookies Braden Schram and Brett Golding get their first taste of CFL action.

3. Ask and you shall receive. With Terrence Toliver and Luke Tasker sitting out — Tasker will do the holding on field goals and nothing more — this is a golden opportunity for a couple of receivers to emerge from a crowded field of contenders. Brian Tyms has one starting spot virtually locked up but Kevin Elliott, Gary Chambers, Damarr Aultman and others have a chance to take a big step forward. Canadian Mike Jones, running with the first team offence all of camp, needs to show he can deliver under the lights.

4. My (defensive) back is out. How injury-ravaged is the Ticats secondary? The Ticats have 19 defensive backs currently on the roster — not including the suspended Emanuel Davis or the injured Mike Daly — but only eight are suiting up against Ottawa. NFL veteran Will Hill has looked great in camp and veteran Dominique Ellis will try and keep some semblance of order but this a raw unit, to say the least. With Ottawa quarterback Trevor Harris expected to get at least some playing time, the newcomers will be tested.

5. Running for your life. There’s great battle brewing at running back where sophomore Ross Scheuerman is getting all he can handle from rookie Alex Green in the bid to back up C.J. Gable (who isn’t playing and has the starting job all but locked up.) Expect both to see playing time as will Canadian draft pick Sean Thomas-Erlington, the Montreal native who has family coming in for the game.

6. Redblacks regressing? Ottawa lost some major-league talent over the winter including the retirement of quarterback Henry Burris as well as the departure of receivers Ernest Jackson and Chris Williams and the loss of defensive backs Mitchell White and Forest Hightower to the NFL. Harris is a capable starter but hasn’t led a team of his own wire-to-wire and losses along the offensive line could also have an impact. That said, Redblacks have won the East the last two seasons and expect to be contenders again this year.

7. Happily ever Everett. With Collaros sitting out and Jeremiah Masoli locked in to the backup spot, second-year man Everett Golson is expected to see significant playing time on Thursday (Masoli will start.) The former Notre Dame star has the same dual-threat skill set as the guys ahead of him on the depth chart but this will be his first taste of extended CFL action. Still just 24-years-old, a solid performance cements his status as a quarterback worth developing.

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