Give thanks: Reigning Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman Chris Van Zeyl returns to the lineup for Ticats

We all have a lot to be thankful for this weekend, but Jeremiah Masoli and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats have one more thing to list just in time for Thanksgiving.

Reigning Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman Chris Van Zeyl has been removed from the six-game injured and will return to the lineup Monday against Toronto, sliding back into his regular spot at right tackle

After a stellar 2019 season, the 37-year-old missed the Ticats’ season-opening loss to Winnipeg with a thumb injury. He returned to the line-up in Week 2 against Saskatchewan, but was significantly hampered and the team made the decision over the ensuing bye week to place him on the six-game injured list. Monday will mark just his second appearance in 2021 for an offensive line that has been under the spotlight all season.

“He’s a champion first and foremost. He’s an awesome leader. He’s a… well, it’d be a 20 minute program. There’s a reason he’s withstood the test of time,” head coach Orlondo Steinauer said when asked what Van Zeyl brings to the table with his return.

“It’s not just because he’s uber-talented. He’s a great person. He’s a great teammate. He works hard. He takes care of his body. He handles his business off the field as well as on. He’s just one of those players that’s a joy to coach. He helps us as coaches tremendously.”

“He’s managed to stay upbeat during a tough time. He’s not an often injured guy, but I’m happy for Chris. I’m extremely happy for us as a football team to have him back. He means a lot as you can tell.”

Van Zeyl anchored an offensive line that helped Hamilton post league-leading rankings in offensive points (508), offensive points per game (28.2), offensive touchdowns (50), net offence (7,125 yards), net offence per game (395.8 yards), average yards per play (6.84), first downs (398), passing yards (5,639), passing yards per game (313.3), average gain per pass (9.0 yards) and 30-plus yard pass gains (31) last CFL season. 

The six-foot-six, 312-pound native of Fonthill, Ontario has appeared in 173 games with 164 starts over his 12 seasons in the three-down league with the Tabbies and Toronto Argonauts (2009-2018), winning Grey Cups in 2012 and 2017 with the Argos.

Van Zeyl was originally selected out of McMaster University by the Montreal Alouettes in the third round, 18th overall during the 2007 CFL Draft before joining the Argonauts in September 2008.

With Van Zeyl’s return, American Jordan Murray will bump to the left tackle spot. Rookie Coulter Woodmansey will start at right guard for the second straight game.

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