The Hamilton Tiger-Cats will unveil a new-look football team on Friday in the quest to break the longest-active Grey Cup drought in the CFL.
Franchise quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, receiver Duke Williams, running back James Butler, defensive tackle Casey Sayles, defensive end Ja’Gared Davis, linebacker Jameer Thurman, and defensive backs Chris Edwards and Javien Elliott are all scheduled to make their regular season debut for the Ticats after joining the team in free agency. Left tackle Joel Figueroa is also slated to make a triumphant return to his former team but is listed as a game-time decision after being limited in practice with a knee injury.
Alongside those highly-touted veteran additions, Hamilton will be starting a number of unproven youngsters. Rookie Kenneth George Jr. will man the boundary corner in his first career CFL game/ Second-year receivers Terry Godwin and Kiondre Smith are in the starting offensive rotation, as is under-the-radar Canadian signee Chris Osei-Kusi.
Rookie Omar Bayless is also listed as a starter in the receiving corps but is likely to be replaced by Duke Williams due to the CFL’s new Nationalized American designation. Williams may play unlimited reps in place of Bayless, as well as substituting for Smith or his backup Tyler Ternowski for up to 23 plays.
Absent from the lineup for the season opener will be star veterans Dylan Wynn and Chris Van Zeyl, who will begin the year on the six-game injured list. Also on the six-game are linebacker Vosean Joseph, running back Sean Thomas-Erlington, offensive lineman Alex Fontana, receiver Anthony Johnson, and defensive end Cedric Wilcots II.
Canadian defensive end Kwaku Boateng headlines the list of players on the one-game injured list, alongside fellow defensive lineman Tre’ Crawford, offensive linemen Dayton Black and Brandon Kemp, and fullback Myles Manalo. Canadian receiver Richie Sindani is also absent from the lineup while serving a two-game suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy.
Friday’s game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers begins at 8:30 p.m. EDT at IG Field and features a halftime performance from locally-born and world-renowned illusionist Darcy Oake.