Seeing how the other half lives had helped make Terrell Sinkfield Jr. a better receiver.
Sinkfield will make his Hamilton debut Saturday afternoon when the Tiger-Cats (8-8) host the Ottawa Redblacks (9-7). The six-foot, 200-pound Sinkfield will play on offence after spending two-plus seasons as a defensive back with the Minnesota Vikings (2016-2017), New York Jets (2017-2018) and Oakland Raiders (2018).
Playing defence helped give Sinkfield a different perspective on lining up as a receiver.
“Just understanding defences and leverages,” he said. “And seeing it from the defensive point of view really helped me out a lot.”
Sinkfield, 27, spent two seasons with Hamilton (2014-2015), registering 79 catches for 1,150 yards and six TDs in 22 games. His best campaign was 2015 when he had 69 receptions for 1,030 yards – his only 1,000-yard CFL season – with six touchdowns.
“I’m in (receiver) mode now,” he said. “June (Hamilton head coach June Jones) likes his routes a little bit different so luckily I didn’t come from being a receiver stuck in a different system.
“So I can come in here and be fresh and run the offence the way he wants.”
Sinkfield will be looking to help re-energize a Hamilton offence that will be minus star receiver Brandon Banks (94 catches, 1,423 yards, 11 TDs). Banks suffered a season-ending broken clavicle in last weekend’s 35-31 road loss in Ottawa.
The loss of Banks is a huge one for Hamilton. Since Sept. 1, 2017, he and starter Jeremiah Masoli have been the CFL’s top passing combination with 152 completions for 2,341 yards and 18 TDs.
Fortunately for Hamilton, Masoli and veteran slotback Luke Tasker are at No. 2 with 131 completions for 1,777 yards and 16 TDs. Masoli said the Ticats can’t afford to dwell upon Banks’ absence.
“You can’t replace none of that, man,” he said. “Nothing but total trust and confidence in the guys we have on the field and we’ll get it done.
“Obviously we know (Sinkfield) is a speedster, he can blow by guys and since he’s got back from the (NFL) I could tell he’s a lot smarter football-wise and can read defences a lot easier. He brings a lot to the table, he’s a complete receiver and we’re lucky to have him.”
Sinkfield roommate is none other than Banks, who’s helped to coach up his teammate nightly. Sinkfield Jr. said even during his tenure as an NFL defensive back he still practised with scout teams as a receiver.
Jones said Sinkfield is ready to go offensively.
“I would say we’re going to have him in a good spot,” he said. “He’s a player.
“He’s played (defensive back) so he’s getting back to what he likes to play. I’m a little bit surprised the NFL didn’t make him a receiver too.”
Saturday’s contest is an important one for both teams. Ottawa can clinch first in the East Division – and home field for the conference final – with a win while Hamilton must claim the victory to keep its hopes for top spot alive.
A loss would relegate Hamilton to second in the East. The Ticats would host the West Division crossover team in the conference semifinal Nov. 11.
Ottawa comes in having won its last four games at Tim Hortons Field. But Hamilton has also registered home victories in three of its last four contests.
Masoli is also on a nice roll, having thrown 10 TD passes in his last three starts, the first player to do so since Edmonton’s Mike Reilly in 2013. Hamilton kicker Lirim Hajrullahu has made all seven field goals this season from 50-plus yards.
But there’s no CFL kicker any hotter than Ottawa rookie Lewis Ward, who’s hit a pro-football-record 45 straight field goals. And slotback Brad Sinopoli needs just four catches to break Ben Cahoon’s single-season record for most receptions by a Canadian (112 receptions).
OTTAWA (9-7) AT HAMILTON (8-8)
Saturday, Tim Hortons Field
KEY MATCHUP: Hamilton receiver Terrell Sinkfield Jr. vs Ottawa secondary. Sinkfield will play his first game of the season with the Ticats after spending the last two-plus seasons as a defensive back in the NFL. The home team needs Sinkfield to make a seamless transition back to offence after star receiver Brandon Banks suffered a season-ending broken clavicle in last weekend’s 35-31 loss to the Redblacks.
THE BIG NUMBER: 4 – Number of consecutive road wins Ottawa has at Tim Hortons Field.
WHO’S HOT: Hamilton QB Jeremiah Masoli. He threw for 342 yards and three TDs in last weekend’s loss, the 12th time this season Masoli has had a 300-yard passing game. If he can finish the season with consecutive 300-yard efforts, Masoli would tie the CFL single-season record of 14.
WORTH WATCHING: Moses Madu is expected to replace CFL rushing leader William Powell in Ottawa’s backfield. Powell ran for 87 yards in last weekend’s contest and 1,362 yards on the season. Madu, in his fourth season, has run for 1,155 yards in 28 career games and is averaging 4.9 yards per carry.