Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ linebacker Simoni Lawrence knows there is a target on his back.
The latest round of attacks came courtesy of Rider Nation after Lawrence was flagged 15 yards for unnecessary roughness after a hit on Saskatchewan Roughriders’ quarterback Cody Fajardo.
To paraphrase a quote from the man himself: you can’t fool Simoni, man, he knows what’s up.
“When you’re really good at football, and you dominate people and you don’t show any mercy, it is one of those things where it is like what can we do to calm him down and make him play on the same playing field,” Lawrence said.
The 33-year-old Lawrence has been a focal point of fan ire in recent years, especially in Saskatchewan after the three-time CFL all-star knocked then-Riders quarterback Zach Collaros out of a Week 1 contest between the two teams in 2019.
Lawrence was suspended two games for his hit on Collaros and has been fined numerous times since that incident, including being handed down an undisclosed fine on Wednesday for his hit on Fajardo last Saturday.
Despite being in the league’s crosshairs, do not expect the 10-year CFL veteran to alter his playing style any time soon.
“I understand they want the game to be super safe and everything, but my job as a football player is to stop the other team and I try to do everything within the rules, but at the end of the day, ain’t nobody stopping nothing.”
In other Ticats news, all-star defensive lineman Dylan Wynn was a limited participant in practice on Wednesday but his head coach doesn’t seem worried.
“No concerns,” Orlondo Steinauer said when asked about Wynn. If Wynn is unable to go on Saturday against the Stampeders expect Canadian veteran Ted Laurent to take his place in the starting lineup.
The Tabbies also look to be making some changes along their offensive line after the unit gave up eight sacks against the Riders in Week 1. American rookie Tyrone Riley has been lining up at left tackle in place of last week’s starter Travis Vornkahl. Vornkahl has been moved to right guard in place of Jesse Gibbon who has been taking all of his reps at centre this week.
The offensive line juggling isn’t just due to poor play as the Ticats have been hit hard by injuries up front. Last week’s starting centre Alex Fontana, a free agent acquisition from Ottawa, has not been at practice this week, putting his status for Saturday’s game in serious doubt.
Fellow Canadian offensive lineman Kyle Saxelid, who was carted off during Hamilton’s Week 1 game, has also not been practicing. The University of Nevada-Las Vegas product was seen in a walking boot on Wednesday.
With these injuries changing the ratio for the Tiger-Cats up front, starting two Americans instead of one as they did a week ago, the team will have to alter their Canadian ratio ahead of Saturday’s contest with the Stamps. Both Ted Laurent and Mason Bennett were with the first-team defence during Wednesday’s practice session, so it should not surprise if one or both are listed as starters when this week’s depth chart is released on Friday.
The Ticats placed all-star defensive back Cariel Brooks on the six-game injured list on Wednesday. Brooks missed last week’s game against the Riders after suffering an injury during the final week of training camp.
The team will be giving away Steinauer rally towels to the first 10,000 people through the gates on Saturday night to commemorate his induction into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame as a member of the 2021 class.
The classes of 2020 and 2021 will be inducted in a ceremony this weekend while the 2022 class will get its moment in the sun in September during the annual Hall of Fame game at Tim Hortons Field. This year’s edition will take place on September 16 and feature a Grey Cup rematch between the Tiger-Cats and the two-time defending champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers.