July 27, 2018 8:19 am
Updated: July 27, 2018 8:25 am

Ticats hoping for a rare home victory against the Redblacks

International receiver Chris Williams returns to Hamilton. He posted 1,000-yard receiving yards in both previous seasons with the Ticats. Williams earned CFL most outstanding rookie honours in 2011.

Geoff Robins / The Canadian Press

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats (2-3) look to get back to .500 Saturday afternoon when the Ottawa Redblacks (3-2) visit Tim Horton’s Field for a 4 p.m. kickoff.

After the game, you can listen to The 5th Quarter postgame show on Global News Radio 900 CHML, online at 900chml.com and via the Radioplayer Canada app.

The Tiger-Cats are coming off back-to-back losses to Saskatchewan, while the Redblacks beat the BC Lions 29-25 in Ottawa last Friday.

It will be Hamilton’s first game since dealing controversial quarterback Johnny Manziel to Montreal, along with starting offensive tackle Tony Washington and back up offensive lineman Landon Rice. In return, the Tiger-Cats received Canadian defensive end Jamaal Westerman, wide receiver Chris Williams and two first-round picks in 2020 and 2021.

With Manziel’s shadow gone, Jeremiah Masoli is undoubtedly the horse Hamilton wants to ride to a Grey Cup.

“I think it makes a statement to [Masoli] that he’s the guy,” said Ticats head coach June Jones.

Masoli went 6-4 as Hamilton’s starter last year and had registered a record-tying nine straight 300-yard performances before last week’s loss to the Rough Riders.

The Tiger-Cats also feel that rookie QB Dane Evans has made big enough strides in 2018 to handle the backup duties.

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Hamilton signed international quarterback Bryant Moniz to fill the third spot.

The 29-year-old has suited up in 38 career CFL games with the Calgary Stampeders (2014-15) and Saskatchewan Roughriders (2016) as a backup and short-yardage quarterback, completing two of four passes for 29 yards and a touchdown, and adding 37 carries for 109 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns.

The former University of Hawaii star was a member of Calgary’s 2014 Grey Cup championship team.

Moniz attended training camp with the Tiger-Cats this year.

The most intriguing piece in Hamilton’s trade with Montreal is perhaps the return of Chris Williams. The five-foot-nine, 155-pound international receiver played two seasons with Hamilton, earning CFL most outstanding rookie honours in 2011. Williams posted 1,000 receiving yards in both seasons.

With NFL aspirations in mind, Williams sued the Tiger-Cats in 2013 to get out of the final year of his contract. It was ruled the Ticats violated the CFL’s collective bargaining agreement with the players’ union by negotiating with an unregistered agent. Williams was awarded his release and joined the New Orleans Saints shortly after, followed by a stint with the Chicago Bears of the NFL. He played seven games over two seasons in the NFL before signing with the Ottawa Redblacks in 2014.

“Football is a business,” Williams said after his first practice with Hamilton since being traded. “Some people are going to like it, some people won’t. That’s the nature of this game, you can’t make everybody happy.”

“I said it from day one, I thoroughly enjoyed my time here and now that I get a second time around.”

Williams has worn #80 for most of his career, but that number now belongs to fellow Ticats receiver Terrence Toliver. Williams is now dawning Manziel’s old #2.

With a win Saturday, Hamilton can move into a first-place tie with Ottawa in the (once again) woeful CFL East Division.

Three things to watch:

  • We could be in for another nailbiter. Hamilton and Ottawa have played each other 10 times from 2014-2018. While they have five wins apiece, eight of those 10 games were decided in the final three minutes of regulation. The Redblacks have won five of the last seven times they have played the Ticats.
  • Home has not been so sweet for the Tiger-Cats. The Redblacks have won their last three visits to Tim Hortons’ Field, their second-best road win streak against any opponent in their five-year history (six in a row at Montreal). Hamilton quarterback Jeremiah Masoli is just 3-7 in starts at Tim Hortons Field, and 12-12 overall in his career.
  • Take care of the football, win the game. The Ticats are ranked ninth in CFL turnover ratio at -6. They’re +1 in their two wins, and -7 in their three losses.

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