One in, one out, one moved

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - STEVE MIL­TON

With a short week and just two prac­tices, the Hamil­ton Tiger-Cats will make only two changes in their de­fen­sive con­fig­u­ra­tion for Thurs­day night’s home game against the un­de­feated Ed­mon­ton Eski­mos.

Will Hill’s re­turn from a onegame sus­pen­sion means he can re­sume his role at SAM line­backer, where ver­sa­tile Keon Lyn filled in last week.

Lyn, more nat­u­rally suited to cor­ner­back, moves to bound­ary cor­ner, which re­moves Ethan Davis, the starter in last week’s 41-26 loss to the BC Lions, from the ros­ter.

Ter­rence Fred­er­ick, who started nine games in Win­nipeg’s de­fen­sive back­field last year and was signed as a free agent last week, comes onto the ros­ter as a backup de­fen­sive back.

Oth­er­wise, the de­fence re­mains the same as the one picked apart by Lions quar­ter­back Travis Lu­lay. There will be no changes to the of­fence’s start­ing dozen.

“It’s what we feel right now is the most com­pet­i­tive group on the field,” Austin said of the sec­ondary. “That doesn’t mean there won’t be more changes go­ing for­ward. Ob­vi­ously, we’re still wait­ing for (in­jured start­ing de­fen­sive half­backs) Ab­dul (Kan­neh) and Chop (Emanuel Davis) to come back, and that will have a domino ef­fect on the ros­ter.” Built for short side? Lyn, who played in­door foot­ball in 2016 but last week made his first start in an out­door game in nearly four years, stayed on the field by him­self for heavy sprints af­ter Tues­day’s prac­tice.

“I’m play­ing catch-up right now,” says the six-foot-one, 205pound, 25-year-old out of Syra­cuse. “I saw enough last week to make me want to work, so I have to get some ex­tra con­di­tion­ing. I’ve got to be able to go a full game and not feel winded.”

Lyn played the wide side of the field in col­lege ball and in Na­tional Foot­ball League camps, but is more suited to the short side here, he says, be­cause of his body type.

“Bound­ary cor­ner is where you get most of the throws,” he rea­sons. “That’s where the stan­dard No. 1 (re­ceiver) is mostly sta­tion­ary. It’s best for a long guy to press him, so that’s my role in this game.” But he’ll prob­a­bly play QB Mike Reilly is ranked only sixth in CFL pass­ing yards, but the Eski­mos are off to a 3-0 start, de­spite mount­ing in­juries. Un­can­nily ac­cu­rate, Reilly has the sec­ond high­est com­ple­tion per­cent­age in the league and hasn’t thrown an in­ter­cep­tion.

Hamil­ton de­fen­sive end Adrian Tracy, who rushes the passer but also drops off in cov­er­age at times, is well aware of how dan­ger­ous Reilly can be.

The Ti­cats ac­tu­ally con­trolled him quite well — a cu­mu­la­tive 369 pass­ing yards and 56 per cent com­ple­tion rate — in two home games late last sea­son, in­clud­ing the “east­ern’ semi­fi­nal, but the Eski­mos won each game by three points.

“He’s a dy­namic quar­ter­back, he’s a cham­pion, a proven win­ner, ex­tremely com­pet­i­tive and tough,” Tracy said. “No mat­ter where he is on the field — I don’t care if he lines up at quar­ter­back, wide re­ceiver or of­fen­sive line­man — you have to keep your eye on him and make sure you know what his strengths are.” They didn’t ask but … Free of charge, here are a cou­ple of sug­ges­tions for the Ti­cats Thurs­day night: To en­able you to stretch the field more with vi­able throws to Jalen Saun­ders, use C.O. Prime even more than he has been as a tight end or sec­ond blocker in the back­field. It doesn’t help for Zach Col­laros to have an ex­tra re­ceiver if he doesn’t have time to be selec­tive.

And stop send­ing de­fen­sive tackle Ted Lau­rent, on 70-yard trips from the bench to the deep red zone for one or two de­fen­sive plays. Of all the de­fend­ers, he’s the one whose en­ergy you need to con­serve most.

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