Camp begins early for kicking candidates
Training camp might not get underway until Sunday; but the competition for the Hamilton TigerCats’ kicking job has already begun.
Sources say the team worked out four kickers on Thursday, and will bring two or three of them to training camp to compete for the position. The four are: •Sergio Castillo, who was originally signed by the Ticats in 2014. He also spent time with Winnipeg and Ottawa. He has played six games, is 10 of 13 (76.9 per cent) on field goals, and has a 44.6-yard average on 21 punts. Castillo was one of seven kickers the Cats brought to mini-camp on a contract basis last month.
•Craig Peterson was also at mini-camp and has several years of arena experience, while also attending training camp with the Ottawa Redblacks in 2014.
•John Lunsford is a 23-year-old who played college at Liberty University and was with the San Francisco 49ers in the pre-season last year appearing in three games. He has also spent time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Seattle Seahawks.
•Ryan Hawkins is a former Northern Arizona punter and place kicker. He was signed by the Toronto Argonauts last season, but was released in May without having played a game.
Former Ticat Brett Maher, who handled the kicking duties in 2016, is not in the mix — at least for now. Sources say Maher, who was signed by Cleveland Browns in March, but released earlier this month, is still pursuing NFL options. The Ticats are reluctant to hand him the job — and an accompanying contract containing upfront money — after he struggled down the stretch last season.
Maher could become an option if the current crop of candidates struggles, however.