Ticats’ running game takes a hit with Don Jackson on one-game injured list

Photo courtesy: Edmonton Elks

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have a chance to claim first place in the East Division with a win against the Toronto Argonauts on Friday, but they will have to do it without their resurgent running game.

After being a full participant on Monday and Tuesday, running back Don Jackson missed Wednesday’s practice with an apparent groin injury. He has since been added to the one-game injured list and will not be on the field against Toronto.

Jackson originally signed in Steeltown during free agency in February 2020, but due to the pandemic leading to the cancelling of that season and a training camp hip injury this year, it took him over a year-and-a-half to be featured as the main back. He’s played in just three games this season, starting the last two, but trails Canadian Sean Thomas-Erlington for the team’s rushing crown by just 87 yards.

The 28-year-old had 16 carries for 120 yards — 7.5 yards per carry — and one touchdown, a 16-yard diving major to finish off the Ticats 39-23 win against Edmonton in Week 13. It was Jackson’s third career 100-yard rushing game in the CFL and first since his rookie year with the Calgary Stampeders in 2018. The five-foot-10, 205-pound back rushed 160 times for 924 yards — 5.8 yards per carry — and three majors during year one north of the border.

He followed that performance up with a 12 carry, 80-yard performance on the ground against the B.C. Lions, adding four catches for 56 yards through the air as well. In total, the spark plug back has chipped in 267 yards of total offence in his three appearances this year.

Hamilton will have a capable replacement in the backfield in Thomas-Erlington, who has started much of this season while the team has struggled with ratio flexibility. However, the loss of Jackson could blow the tires off a rushing attack that has been key to Hamilton’s resurgence and it comes ahead of their biggest game of the season.