May 14, 2024

Observations From Day 3 of Tiger-Cats Training Camp

Although you never want there to be, inevitably there are injuries at a football training camp. But this was a scene absolutely no one around and the Tiger-Cats wanted to witness…because of the back story.

Big, personable, optimistic Justin McGriff perched dejectedly on the back of a golf cart, and being taken off the practice field at McMaster.

You’ll recall from a Ticats Today episode over the weekend that the quick 6-foot-6 receiver  was one of the big revelations at last year’s training camp and would have made the team. But just before the season opened he had a freakish, and horrific, off-field accident in which he incurred a compound fracture of his right tibia.. He was out for the year and many observers thought it might also be a career-ending injury. But McGriff somehow worked his way back into playing condition much earlier than anticipated and was in uniform for this year’s rookie camp, and then main camp, and was clearly the favourite to become the starting wide receiver on the short side of the field. He’d already made some excellent catches of Taylor Powell passes against tight, aggressive coverage.

There haven’t been any particulars available on the injury that forced McGriff off the field, but when more details emerge we’ll update this column.

After Tuesday’s second half of a power practice concluded, GM Ed Hervey said, “We didn’t get a chance to see actual injury happen, we have to see the film. As it sits right now we don’t have an update on where the injury is. We know it’s lower body but before we get into specifics, we’d like to have at least a doctor’s assessment to give us a little bit more information.”

In other segments of Ticats Today Scott Milanovich fleshes out a couple of aspects of the team’s practice schedule. They had power practices–which were once known, essentially, as two-a-days–Monday and Tuesday, and will have them again on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. But on Thursday the players won’t be on the field at all and Milanovich explains why it’s so important that the team only has meetings, weightlifting and off-field conditioning; the newest studies show that a fourth day of heavy practice is when injuries most frequently occur.

We also talk about Bo Levi Mitchell and Taylor Powell, second-round draft choice Luke Brubacher’s training camp debut after a stint in NFL mini-camps Tuesday, why that’s important to the Ticats (they need Canadian depth on the defensive line) and take a glimpse at the torrid start free agent cornerback Jamal Peters is off to.

CATS CLAUSES: Scott Milanovich says a couple of sunny days in a row has been helpful in getting off to a good start, but said “now I’m hoping for some rain. We have to learn to play in the elements too.” … rookie WR Shemar Bridges who is, so far, the front runner to start at wide receiver on the weak side of the field, says he’s been “watching the CFL since I was very young, during the summer when there was no (American) football on, so when I heard that I had an opportunity in Hamilton, I signed in January. I put in a lot of work and was locked in to get ready; speed training; catching;  lifting.”… Richard Leonard, in his second stint with the Ticats and a four-time all-star says he likes facing all the big receivers in camp, although many are several inches taller than the defensive back.  “It gets us better for when we play other teams which have size on them. It just sharpens you up. I’ve got little-man syndrome, and I don’t like to get beaten by anybody.”