Hamilton Tiger-Cats running back Ross Scheuerman was spectacular in his one and only start last season, posting nearly 130 all-purpose yards in a hard-fought 20-17 win.
And he did most of it with a busted wrist.
“I knew I’d done something to it the second series but I got it taped up, took some painkillers and got through the game,” Scheuerman said. “At the time, I didn’t think it was broken.”
The injury derailed a promising season — he wouldn’t play again in 2016 — but the 24-year-old will get another chance on Saturday when the Ticats travel to Regina to take on the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Scheuerman will replace veteran C.J. Gable, who had five carries for nine yards in the season-opening loss to the Toronto Argonauts on June 26.
“He’s the kind of back that we like, he catches the ball really well out of the backfield, he’s a good runner and he protects the quarterback,” head coach Kent Austin said of Scheuerman.
“He brings some explosiveness out of the backfield for us and some big-play capability.”
The 2013 East Division’s Most Outstanding Rookie, Gable has made 43 starts in his five seasons with the Ticats. He had almost 700 yards rushing and more than 400 yards receiving last season but had just one 100-yard rushing game and three carries of 20-plus yards.
While he’s understandably disappointed by the demotion, Gable said he’d support his teammates the best he could.
“It’s not within my control and I (can) do nothing about it. When somebody tells you you’re not playing and you’ve been playing the whole time, you’re not used to it,” Gable said. “But you have to brush it off, make other players better by working on scout team. That’s another way to contribute.”
There will be other changes for the Ticats as well, some due to injury, others performance.
Brian Tyms will move one spot over from the boundary slot position to receiver, replacing the injured Terrence Tolliver while veteran Junior Collins and rookie Jalen Saunders will be added to the lineup.
Kevin Elliott, who had two catches for 18 yards against the Argos, is out.
Saunders, a speed merchant with has nine games of NFL experience, will be making his first CFL start while Collins is in his third season in Hamilton with 27 catches in 11 games played. He knows Austin well and that may be his biggest asset at the moment.
“With a position change and a new face, we wanted to make sure that we are lined up properly and Junior can play all the positions and he’s a great communicator,” Austin said.
There will be changes on defence as well. Canadian defensive tackle Mike Atkinson looks set to return to the lineup after missing week one, an addition that should ease the team’s ratio concerns. The secondary, which gave up over 500 yards passing to Toronto’s Ricky Ray, will also have a fresh look.
Look for Ethan Davis and Khalid Wooten to make their Ticats debut, both having been acquired in separate trades with the Montreal Alouettes in the off-season.
His wrist fully healed, Scheuerman would like to build on the promising performance against the Alouettes last season and give the team’s languishing running game a much-needed boost.
“Hopefully, I can be a spark for the offence, break a big play here or there,” Scheuerman said. “I’ve been that guy in the past and I’d like to think I can be again.”