For the first time since the 2019 Grey Cup, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats return to action as the Canadian Football League resumes action after a long, COVID-19 layoff.
Since the resounding defeat in the hands of Winnipeg, the team, like the league itself, has seen a profound turnaround of talents via retirement, or in between clubs. With the Grey Cup scheduled for mid-December, the Tiger-Cats inherit expectations of winning the championship at their home turf.
Hamilton will take to the field on Thursday at Winnipeg with the returning QB Jeremiah Masoli leading the team. It will make the first time in over two years the incumbent played in a game. Surrounding Masoli will be a potentially-potent offence anchored by the reigning league MOP Brandon Banks, Braylon Addison, DeVier Posey and Jaylen Acklin.
The offensive line will feature a mix of returnees and youth with Brandon Ravenberg and Chris Van Zeyl leading the core, while Darius Ciraco takes over retiree Mike Filer under centre.
Like the offence, the defence will feature familiar faces from the 2019 team. The front seven is set to feature the returns of Ted Laurent, Dylan Wynn, JaGared Davis and Julian Howsare in the line,.
Simoni Lawrence anchors the linebacker group that’ll feature free agent signee Jovan Santos Knox (formerly of WPG) in the middle, and former NFL player Kameron Kelly at the SAM spot (right side position linebacker).
The secondary should still be formidable with Mike Daly, Frankie Williams (2019 Special Teams MOP), Jumar Rolle, Trune Adaleke and free agent acquisition Ciante Evans. The depth could be contested following the retirements of Rico Murray, Delvin Breaux, and Courtney Stephen.
Perhaps the newest core of talent in the team will be in the special teams. Doing the kicking duties will be the former NFL kicker Taylor Bertolet and global selectee Joel Whitford doing the punting. 2019 CFL draftee Gordon Whyte replaces longtime veteran Aaron Crawford as the long snapper.
With the mixture of youth and experience, the 2021 Hamilton Tiger-Cats hope to renew their dominance of the Eastern Division and eventually the overdue cultivation of winning the most lucrative prize in Canadian football.