The Hamilton Tiger-Cats appear to finally be getting healthy at the most important position in football.
Bo Levi Mitchell was a limited participant in practice with the team on Tuesday, taking the field for the first time since he suffered a fractured leg against the Ottawa Redblacks on July 28. The injury occurred on the second-last offensive play of the game as Mitchell executed a quarterback sneak near Hamilton’s end zone.
“It felt so good just putting the helmet back on, the cleats and just getting back out there competing with the teammates. The camaraderie being back out there, it feels great. I wish it was obviously a lot sooner but I got back as fast as I could,” Mitchell told the media in Hamilton.
“The team here and the resources they give you, it’s pretty unmatched from what I’ve heard and what I know, so they gave me every opportunity to be back as fast as I could. Anything I needed, they were there to say, ‘Hey, whatever you need recovery-wise or whatever it is, we’ll get you there,’ which obviously feels pretty good as an athlete.”
The two-time CFL Most Outstanding Player has completed 57.7 percent of his passes for 714 yards, three touchdowns, and nine interceptions in three starts this season, posting a 1-2 record. He previously missed four games this season with an adductor injury.
Taylor Powell has started nine games for the Ticats this year, including the past eight consecutive contests. The rookie out of Eastern Michigan posted a 4-5 record in those games, completing 68.5 percent of his passes for 2,177 yards, 10 touchdowns, and seven interceptions to help Hamilton clinch a spot in the playoffs. He has also rushed for 196 yards and one touchdown.
The 24-year-old received rave reviews from Mitchell, who didn’t start any games back when he was a rookie with the Calgary Stampeders in 2012.
“We’re not in this position without him. As a rookie to step in for two veterans for eight games and essentially get us into a winning position — you know, we weren’t in one when he got into the game — so that guy’s work ethic, his tireless effort to be great is pretty unmatched and it’s pretty amazing to watch,” said Mitchell.
“One of the best I’ve ever seen from a rookie as far as a guy that’s ready to go and seems like a veteran already. He’s a guy that everybody in this building trusts, so big thanks and shout out to that guy. We know we have him if anything happens again to me or Matt.”
Powell was replaced by Matthew Shiltz late in the first quarter of this past weekend’s win over the Calgary Stampeders. The 30-year-old threw for 225 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception in what was his first live action since suffering a hip injury against the Edmonton Elks on July 13.
Mitchell and Shiltz reportedly split the first-team reps in practice on Tuesday, making it unclear who will start under centre this week. Head coach Orlondo Steinauer didn’t indicate who would be the starter, saying that the club won’t rush Mitchell back until he’s ready to go. Shiltz has completed 63.4 percent of his passes this season for 1,105 yards, four touchdowns, and four interceptions, posting a 2-1 record as a starter.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats (7-8) are scheduled to visit the Saskatchewan Roughriders (6-9) on Saturday, Oct. 7 with kickoff slated for 7:00 p.m. EDT.