After big trade, Ticats shuffle the line up against Redblacks

The Ticats are coming off two straight losses to the Saskatchewan Roughriders, including a 31-20 beat down at Tim Hortons Field last Thursday. Having started the season 2-3 against a tough slate of West Division games (including three on the road) Hamilton will play eight of their last 13 contests against East opponents. The Ticats will face the Redblacks twice more at the end of the regular season but getting an early advantage will help in the race for playoff positioning – or a post-season spot.

Ottawa Redblacks (3-2) at Hamilton Tiger-Cats (2-3)
Tim Hortons Field
Sat., July. 28
Game time: 4 p.m.
TV: TSN Radio: TSN 1150

Key injuries and roster changes: This is the first Ticats game since last Sunday’s blockbuster trade that sent back up quarterback Johnny Manziel, starting left tackle Tony Washington and Canadian offensive lineman Landon Rice to Montreal in exchange for American receiver Chris Williams and national defensive end Jamaal Westerman (along with two first round draft picks.) Both Williams and Westerman will be in the line up with Williams starting in place of the injured Terrence Toliver and Westerman part of a nine-man rotation along the defensive line. Rookie international Avery Jordan will get the start at left tackle but Canadian Kay Okafor is also expected to see some time. Receiver Luke Tasker will miss his second straight game while defensive Adrian Tracy returns to the line up.

Mathieu Girard will take over Rice’s role as a back up and sixth man while Aaron Crawford, who tore his ACL against these same Redblacks last October, returns as long snapper. Bryant Moniz, who was re-signed this week after being cut at the end of training camp, is the No. 3 quarterback with Dane Evans sliding into the back up spot vacated by Manziel’s departure.

The storyline for Ottawa: At 3-2, the Redblacks are on top of the East Division and can stretch that lead to two games with a win over the Ticats. Quarterback Trevor Harris is fourth in the league in passing but has just a 88.3 passer rating and has been pulled in two games so far this season. Whether Harris is an “elite” quarterback is a question that will follow him until he proves it, one way or the other.

Key injuries and roster changes: Ottawa has been ridiculously healthy so far this season, using the fewest number of starters in the CFL with just 27: the only significant contributor on the injured list is offensive lineman Evan Johnson. The Redblacks are making a ratio change this week, going with two Canadian receivers so they can play four American defensive linemen up front.

Key stats:

1: offensive touchdowns in the last two games for the Ticats, both losses.
312.4: average passing yards per game for Ticats quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, a pace that would see him eclipse the club record of 5.367 passing yards set by Henry Burris in 2012.
3-7: Masoli’s record at Tim Hortons Field. He’s 12-12 overall.
28: average yard line the Ticats have started their drives on this season, the lowest ever since the CFL started collecting that stat in 2008.
-6: turnover ratio for the Ticats, worst mark in the CFL. They are +1 in their two wins and -7 in their three losses.
82.8: career field goal percentage for Ticats kicker Lirim Hajrullahu (fourth all-time) who has missed just one field goal this year, going 13 of 14.
3: consecutive wins by Ottawa at Tim Hortons Field, part of five wins for the Redblacks in their last seven against the Ticats.
0: number of games the Ticats have played against the East this season.

TSN play-by-play: Rod Black and Duane Forde

Referee: Dave Foxcrot

Weather: Mainly sunny, 24 degrees , 10 per cent chance of rain, winds out of the west at 25 km/h.

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