The Ticats make a bunch of roster moves (and what they mean)

The Ticats made a bunch of roster moves on Thursday as they get ready for the start of training camp in just over a week. Here’s what they did and my thoughts on why.

1. Released four players: national receiver Akeem Haynes, international DBs Keon Lyn and Caleb Duncan as well as international receiver Al Riles.

Haynes is kind of a surprise if only because there was so much buzz around him due to his history as an Olympic sprinter and because head coach June Jones said some nice things about him at mini-camp. That said, Haynes didn’t necessarily have the greatest hands – he had some drops in camp – and he hadn’t played football in a while. The team just drafted Mark Chapman first overall and they’ve got a number of national receivers on the roster.

Lyn played two games for Hamilton last year but suffered a broken femur in a July game against Edmonton that required surgery and hospitalization. He posted several updates about his rehab on his social media but the Ticats were apparently unwilling to take the chance that he wouldn’t fully recover. It’s possible he could get another look down the road but it doesn’t make much sense to use a roster spot on a guy with an uncertain future.

Duncan and Riles were at mini-camp in April and the Ticats have decided to go in another direction.

2. Five players retired: American defensive backs Dante Blackmon and Justin Rogers, international defensive end Ryan Mueller, American offensive tackle Wil Freeman, Canadian linebacker Geoff Hughes.

Rogers played in six games early last season, making 21 tackles, while Blackmon appeared in two. Mueller saw action in four. Freeman didn’t play at all.

Hughes, however, played in all 18 games last season and made 17 special teams tackles – third on the team – and played in 10 games in 2016. The Saskatchewan native is an engineer by training and apparently got a job in December and has decided to continue with his post-football career.

3. Signed four American receivers: Andrew Turzilli, Chris Hubert, Bryce Wilkerson and Jarvis Baxter.

The 6-foot-4, 195 pound Turzilli is 26 and played three regular-season games with the Tennessee Titans in 2015, registering two receptions for 25 yards. He’s also spent time with the New York Giants (2017), Detroit Lions (2016) and San Francisco 49ers (2015) after playing collegiately at both the University of Kansas and Rutgers University.

When the Ticats released the ten names on their neg list in February, Turzilli was among them.

“He’s a guy we’ve had on the neg list for a long time,” assistant general manager Shawn Burke said at the time.

The 5-foot-9, 170 pound Hubert is 25 and spent time with the Arizona Cardinals in 2016 and 2017 but did not appear in a game. He played in 32 games over four seasons at Fayetteville State University from 2012 to 2015, registering 129 receptions for 1,784 yards and 19 touchdowns with the Broncos.

Wilkerson, 22, converted to receiver from corner and caught 118 passes for 1,425 yards and seven touchdowns in his last season at the University of Mary Hardin–Baylor. The 5-foot-8, 165-pounder broke the American Southwest Conference record with 11 career kick returns for touchdowns.

The 24-year-old Baxter (5-foot-11, 173 pounds) played 23 games over two seasons at the University of Oklahoma (2015-16), racking up 24 receptions for 275 yards and one touchdown.