May 22, 2024

Milanovich Hoping For More Opportunity to Evaluate Tight Ends

Scott Milanovich, his offensive coaching staff and the player personnel department invested considerable mental energy and scouting resources last winter, to design and populate one significant part of their evolution of the team’s playbook.

For reasons involving strategy, variety, unpredictability and head-to-head mismatches, Milanovich and Co. are committed to introducing a viable package which includes NFL-style tight end play, which differs from what we so often see: an extra offensive lineman, or even a big fullback, lining up at “tight end” beside the offensive tackle. The latter has its own purpose and effectiveness but it’s not as flexible as a true tight end set. So it doesn’t provide as many options for either the tight end or his quarterback.

So three prototypical tight ends were brought into camp, but as the old saw goes, the best kind of ability is avail-ability, and so far that’s been in short supply, because of injuries.

In Sunday’s Black and Gold game, for instance, only Michael Ezeike, the 6-foot-5 250-pound rookie from UCLA  was able to take full-action reps. Jevoni Robinson, who’s 6-foot-8 and played big-time basketball at NC State and professionally in Italy, is now back on the field, and Camren McDonald, 6-foot-4, 245 pounds, was in uniform today but could only participate in walk-through sessions, not full drills.

The Cats have still practiced tight-end formations, but have often had to use an extra lineman or a fullback beside the tackles, and Milanovich expressed some concern this morning.

“It’s a little bit frustrating right now because we haven’t had them,” he said. “One of the things we talk about is availability. It’s one of the ways we assess players and there hasn’t been a ton of availability for the tight ends.

“So we’ll have a counter plan but it’s getting to the point, where those guys need to show what they (can do).”

That’s pretty direct. The rest of Milanovich’s comments today, including how Taylor Powell is progressing, are available in his post-practice media interview.

On the audio and video Ticats Today podcasts we also deliver a brief memorial to Ron Brewer, the late CFL star who won the 1967 Grey Cup with Hamilton, visit with middle linebacker Kyle Wilson and offer up two Ticat examples of the kind of professional attitudes that fans rarely see from the outside, which all elite athletes must develop.