Hamilton RB James Butler game-time decision for Ticats season opener

Photo: Bob Butrym/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats could be without one of their top offensive weapons when they take to the field for their season opener on Friday.

Standout running back James Butler has been listed as a game-time decision after being limited in practice by a hamstring injury. The 29-year-old rushed 235 times for 1,116 yards and seven touchdowns in his first season with the Ticats, adding 61 receptions for 527 yards and a score through the air.

Butler is backed up by veteran Canadian Ante Milanovic-Litre, who has rushed for 647 yards over six CFL seasons. Practice roster rookie Greg Bell is likely to be activated if Butler is unable to go.

Elsewhere on offence, starting quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell will be surrounded by new faces as he makes his much-anticipated return to Calgary, including at both tackle spots. Rookies Brendan Bordner and Quinton Barrow will get the start with both Joel Figueroa (undisclosed) and Jordan Murray (knee) beginning the year on the six-game injured list.

Fellow rookie Shemar Bridges, who caught four passes for 60 yards and a major in one preseason appearance, will also get his first start for the team, as will Canadian free agent Brendan O’Leary-Orange and UFL returnee Steven Dunbar Jr. Kick returner Lawrence Woods III, who has traditionally played cornerback, will get the start in the receiving corps, with all-star Tim White expected to receive the majority of reps as the designated nationalized American on offence.


Defensively, Ticats fans will have to wait a week to see all-star free agent signee Jamal Peters (hamstring) at boundary cornerback, as he begins the year on the one-game injured list. Rookie Mark Milton will step into that slot, with Kenneth George Jr. playing boundary halfback and Dexter Lawson Jr. getting the start at field corner.

The linebacking corps is expected to be flush with new faces, as newcomers Ray Wilborn and Destin Talbert get the start at weak-side and strong-side linebacker respectively. Veteran Kyle Wilson will see the majority of reps in the middle but will serve as the designated nationalized American, with Canadian Trevor Hoyte getting the start.

Along the defensive line, former Argos Brandon Barlow and Dewayne Hendrix will make their debuts alongside Casey Sayles and Nick Usher.

Along with Figueroa and Murray, linebackers Nic Cross (undisclosed) and Enock Makonzo (undisclosed), defensive back Will Sunderland (undisclosed), and offensive lineman Dayton Black (Achilles) will begin the year on the six-game injured list. Special teams ace Carthell Flowers-Lloyd (hamstring) and Global linebacker Penei Pavihi (abdomen) will join Peters on the one-game injured list, while offensive lineman Evan Johnson and defensive end Kobe Jones serve as healthy scratches.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats (0-0) will visit the Calgary Stampeders (0-0) at McMahon Stadium on Friday, June 7 with kickoff slated for 9:00 p.m. EDT. The opposing depth chart can be found here.

Graphic courtesy: Hamilton Tiger-Cats