Ti­cats lose To­liver for ex­tended pe­riod

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - DREW ED­WARDS

Hamil­ton Tiger-Cats head coach Kent Austin did not use the early bye week for rest and re­lax­ation, choos­ing in­stead to put his mind to solv­ing his team’s many chal­lenges. Chief among them: how do his Ti­cats re­place a vet­eran six­foot-five re­ceiver com­ing off his first ca­reer 1,000-yard sea­son?

The team con­firmed Mon­day that Ter­rence To­liver will miss an ex­tended pe­riod af­ter suf­fer­ing a knee in­jury on the Ti­cats’ first pos­ses­sion in the sea­sonopen­ing loss to the Toronto Arg­onauts on June 25. He’s been placed on the six-game in­jured list and is ex­pected to miss the re­main­der of the year, though Austin said there was an “out­side chance” of a late-sea­son re­turn.

“First and fore­most, we hate it for Ter­rence. He re­ally worked hard, came in great shape and had a re­ally great train­ing camp,” Austin said af­ter his team’s first prac­tice in more than a week. “It’s just re­ally un­for­tu­nate, so quick.”

The in­jury had an im­me­di­ate im­pact on the team’s per­for­mance against Toronto, says fel­low re­ceiver Luke Tasker.

“You’d like to ex­pect your­self to just roll with some­thing like that with­out any hic­cups, but hon­estly, some­thing that big, so early in the sea­son and so early in the game, takes you by sur­prise,” Tasker said. “You know as the sea­son goes on that you’re go­ing to have to com­pen­sate for big in­juries but that’s not where my mind was: ‘how are we go­ing to do this with­out TT?’

“I wouldn’t stand up and tell you that we han­dled that just right.”

If re­plac­ing To­liver in the short-term proved chal­leng­ing — the team used re­turn man Bran­don Banks, who is 10 inches shorter, to get through the game against the Arg­onauts — To­liver’s size and ex­pe­ri­ence make find­ing a per­ma­nent so­lu­tion just as daunt­ing. Op­tions in­clude new­com­ers Da­marr Ault­man and Jalen Saun­ders — both of whom had ex­cel­lent train­ing camps cut short by in­jury — as well as vet­eran Ju­nior Collins.

To­liver played pri­mar­ily at the bound­ary wide re­ceiver spot where he was able to use his height ad­van­tage over smaller de­fend­ers. It’s a high-vol­ume po­si­tion that lends it­self to big­ger, more phys­i­cal play­ers, so sopho­more Brian Tyms, who’s listed at six­foot-three, could be an op­tion.

“We move our re­ceivers around quite a bit so we can move an ex­ist­ing re­ceiver out there,” said Austin.

“You can have a guy that’s not six-foot­five that’s highly skilled that fits our of­fence that can still play that spot.”

The Ti­cats have is­sues on the other side of the foot­ball, too. Af­ter giv­ing up 506 pass­ing yards to Toronto quar­ter­back Ricky Ray — a ca­reer high — Hamil­ton will likely need to re­jig the se­condary that is still with­out in­jured half­backs Ab­dul Kan­neh, who was on the field on Mon­day but is un­likely to play this week, and Emanuel Davis who is al­ready on the six-game in­jured list. The team added Ethan Davis from the sus­pended list and could make more moves in the com­ing days.

“We had some guys that had a lot of men­tal er­rors, and it starts there. We’re look­ing for­ward to see­ing im­prove­ment go­ing into the sec­ond game,” Austin said. “We’re go­ing to tinker early and fig­ure out the most com­pet­i­tive team,” Austin said.

Hamil­ton trav­els to Regina to take on the Roughrid­ers on Satur­day, a team com­ing off back-to-back losses to start the sea­son, in­clud­ing the in­au­gu­ral game in the their new $278-mil­lion sta­dium. It’s still early days in the long CFL sched­ule, but both of these teams are try­ing to over­come ob­sta­cles be­fore they be­come in­sur­mount­able.

“They’re go­ing to see this as their chance to get back to where they want to be; they’re go­ing to be ready,” Tasker said. “That be­ing said, they made a lot of mis­takes in their first two games and it’s up to us to take ad­van­tage of those.”

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