When Kent Austin was hired as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ general manager and head coach last December, he had a good idea that the learning curve would be a steep one for his club, especially on offence. But as training camp came to an end Tuesday — the Ticats will have a walk-through on Wednesday for their final pre-season tune-up a day later, with final cuts coming this weekend — Austin was, more or less, pleased with his players’ ability to catch on. “Our offence is not easy if you are a receiver,” Austin said with a hint of a smile. “It’s probably the worst position to be in — you have a lot to learn. There are a lot of adjustments in our patterns, and they have to have great time and space ability. When you don’t come from that kind of a background, it is very new. It’s like Chinese at first.” Austin will have a clearer idea of whether that’s entirely true after the Ticats play host to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Thursday at the University of Guelph’s Alumni Stadium. While incumbents such as Andy Fantuz and Sam Giguere are secure in their jobs, Austin has been impressed by at least two newcomers. Wide receiver Justin Hilton and slotback Greg Ellingson, both imports, will get every opportunity against the Bombers to not only stick but earn a starting role. If it happens for either, the result will have been one earned through determination and lots of homework. Football players, none more than rookies trying to learn the nuances of the Canadian Football League game, spend the majority of their spare time during camp with their noses stuck in their playbook. “It’s like being in school again,” Ellingson said. “It’s like your math book or your science book, you go back and you have a certain section you have to go through, try to memorize everything you can. Make sure you know the coverages and how to change your routes and options for it, and then you come out in practice and that’s your test.” Ellingson, who caught two passes for 45 yards against Montreal last week, had a bit of a head start in preparation for camp.
Ticats coach impressed by some newcomers
Calgary Sun | Jun 19