As injuries decimate Ticats receiving corps, Rashad Lawrence steps into the breach

Timing isn’t everything.

But it’s something, says Rashad Lawrence, whose time just happens to be now.

With three receivers – Jalen Saunders, Chris Williams and Shamawd Chambers – out with season-ending injuries, the 26-year-old is back in the Tiger-Cats lineup for Saturday’s rematch with host Toronto.

He starts at slotback, filling the hole left by Saunders – the most recent member of the trio to go down.

“Timing, being in the right situation, sticking with it, having faith, ” he says. “Just continue to do the work, you know, and things fall into place when it’s time.”

A Northwestern grad from the southeastern U.S., Lawrence bounced around the NFL for four years on tryout and short-term contracts before landing in Hamilton as a free agent at the start of this season.

He played in four games early on, reeling in passes – short ones, mostly – and running back kicks. He looked good, too, especially in Saskatchewan, where he had six catches for 38 yards.

Then the Tiger-Cats got Williams and Luke Tasker and Terrence Toliver got healthy, and the Florida native landed on the practice roster, where he’s toiled in the background since late July.

He’s been working on the little things, he says, like getting the waggle down and internalizing the more minute details in the playbook so he would be ready when a chance – at any position – came up.

“I just try to help out wherever I can, ” adds the self-described utility man.

In Toronto, though, opportunity knocks for more than Lawrence. Toliver could also be due for a big game – partly because of the absence of Saunders, who was felled by a torn ACL, and partly because Tasker and Brandon Banks ran roughshod over the Argos defence on Labour Day.

The pair combined for 278 yards through the air and three touchdowns, and, along with quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, were named the CFL’s top performers for Week 12.

“It’s all about me getting those opportunities, making those plays coming off the injury, ” says Toliver, who tore his ACL in last year’s season opener and was sidelined for the rest of the campaign. “I know I still can make plays, I know I still can do what those guys do, it’s all about the opportunity and I’m looking forward to it.”

The longtime Tiger-Cat will have some competition.

According to head coach June Jones, receivers Felix Faubert-Lussier and Sean Thomas Erlington will also get to play, as will Bralon Addison, who was added to Hamilton’s expanded practice roster early this month.

“It’s next man up now, ” says Jones, “so Rashad and Erls and Faubi will get their chance to show what they can do. Just like I told each one of them, I said, ‘You waited for your opportunity. Don’t give it up from here on. Your resume is going to be the game film.’

“They understand that and they’re very conscientious kids.”

Addison, listed as starting returner against Toronto, is excited to make an impression – even if his shot came as a consequence of Saunders getting hurt.

“I definitely feel bad for him, ” says the 24-year-old Texan, who was released by the Argos in mid-August. “It’s unfortunate to see that, but on the other side, it’s good to be able to play and get some action.”

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