Evans back for Tiger-Cats’ tilt in Toronto, but Hamilton not out of the Woods with injuries


Published August 25, 2022 at 11:38 am

Dane Evans led the Tiger-Cats to their first win of 2021 on Friday (Aug. 27). (Hamilton Tiger-Cats photo)

Dane Evans is back, for reals, for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats entering the first leg of a home-and-home with the Toronto Argonauts.

For the first time in three weeks, Evans is listed as the starter for Hamilton, after missing one game and dressing but not playing in another while backup Matthew Shiltz helmed the offence. The 29-year-old was held out of at least one workout this week, with Shiltz continuing to take the first-team reps.

Hamilton (3-7) visits Toronto (4-5) on Friday (7:30 p.m. ET, TSN/RDS/Ticats Audio Network). The teams meet again 10 days later in the Labour Day Classic at Tim Hortons Field on Sept. 5. That will put a wrap on a four-game season series, which is currently tied 1-1 with Toronto up seven points on aggregate.

Evans’ return is among eight starting lineup changes from last week to this week for Hamilton, but that might not include the biggest absence. Ace returner Lawrence Woods III, who leads the CFL with 1,469 total return yards, is on the six-game injured list. Woods was injured while covering a punt last Saturday in Montréal.

The rushing/receiving and blocking groups Evans will work with on Friday have been slightly shuffled. Papi White, who has been out for more than a month with a knee ailment, draws in at the slotback spot where the Tiger-Cats are trying to find a replacement for injured star Bralon Addison.

White gained 122 yards across the first four games, but with an average of only 7.6 per reception while Hamilton’s offence was mired in early-season molasses. Fellow slotback Tim White has had back-to-back CFL top performer of the week nods after scoring three touchdowns in Hamilton’s last two games.

Starting centre Alex Fontana has been put on the six-game injured list after going down in Hamilton’s 29-28 defeat at Montréal on Aug. 20. Coulter Woodmansey will move to centre, with third-year veteran Kyle Saxelid starting at right guard. Félix Garand-Gauthier will also be in at fullback, since Jake Burt has a multi-games injury.

Getting both Whites into the lineup means Hamilton has adjusted its ratio. The Tiger-Cats have had 6-of-7 required Canadian starters on offence in recent games. But defensive end Mason Bennett, a Winnipeg native, has gone back into the starting lineup on defence, where veteran safety Tunde Adeleke is the other national.

Recent signing Rodney Randle Jr. will start at cornerback in place of injured Ciante Evans (hand). Jumal Rolle, after missing one game with an ailing hamstring, is back at the other corner spot.

Toronto has been relatively unscathed by injuries. The Argonauts are moving emerging Canadian talent Kurleigh Gittens Jr. inside to slotback for this week, with ex-Ticats star Brandon Banks playing at the wide-side wide receiver spot that is commonly staffed by a Canadian.

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