Hamilton Tiger-Cats get Simoni Lawrence back for first tilt vs. Toronto


Published August 5, 2022 at 11:25 am

For the first time this season, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats will have both linebacker Simoni Lawrence and defensive halfback Cariel Brooks on the field together.

Lawrence, the reigning East Division defensive player of the year who has been out for three games with an injury, will return Saturday when the Tiger-Cats visit the archrival Toronto Argonauts (7 p.m., TSN/RDS/Ticat Audio Network). The ninth-year veteran was a full participant in practice all week, and is slotted into his familiar will linebacker position for the matchup between Hamilton (2-5), which has won its last two divisional games, and East-leading Toronto (3-3).

Saturday will also mark the first time that Hamilton faces their former star slotback Brandon Banks, who signed with Toronto last winter. It will also be their first time facing veteran running back Andrew Harris, who was part of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers teams that defeated Hamilton in the past two Grey Cup games, since Harris moved east to Toronto.

Banks has been Toronto’s third-most targeted receiver so far this season and has a team-most three touchdown receptions. But he is fifth in Toronto in yards with 224 on 14.9 per reception. Kurleigh Gittens Jr. has been the most proficient and prolific pass-catcher for Argonauts quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson. With 440 receiving yards, the Ottawa native ranks second in the Canadian Football League among national receivers.

Lawrence was put on the six-game injured list on July 15, but was moved to the one-game list last week, allowing for his return. Kyle Wilson started in his absence, helping Hamilton win two of thtree games.

Brooks started the season on the six-game injured list and made his season debut against Montréal on July 28. The 2021 CFL all-star had five tackles and two touchdown-denying pass breakups during Hamilton’s 24-17 victory. With Brooks on the back end of their defence, the Tiger-Cats were also able to generate a strong pass rush, tallying a season-most five sacks.

Jones in with Ternowski injured

Offensively, Hamilton’s only change was tipped earlier this week, when the Tiger-Cats re-acquired veteran Canadian wide receiver Mike Jones. The sixth-year veteran, who started the season with the Edmonton Elks before being cut last week, will draw in at the wideout spot where hometown receiver Tyler Ternowski had shown decent progress in limited action.

Unfortunately for the Tiger-Cats and Ternowski, the Sir Allan MacNab grad has a shoulder injury that is serious enough to warrant a move to the six-game list.

Otherwise, the offensive line in front of quarterbacks Dane Evans and Matt Shiltz remains intact from last week. With the QBs rotating in order to make use of Shiltz’s dual threat as a rusher, Hamilton had 102 yards on the ground last week and scored multiple rushing TDs in a game for the first time this season. The offence also had a sack-free performance.

The matchup is the teams’ first since Hamilton defeated Toronto in the East Division final last December. It is also the front end of a home-and-home, with the return game set for Tim Hortons Field on Augu. 12, as well as the first of four Ticats-Argos matchups in five weeks.

The glut of gut-check games will be capped by the Labour Day Classic on Sept. 5.

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