One Final Hole to Fill: Replacing Delvin Breaux

crop_20984534702With the draft over and training camp on the horizon, the Ticats are looking to put the final touches on their 2015 squad. With the recent acquisition of Ryan Bomben, the team addressed one of their biggest areas of concern, especially following the season-ending injury to free-agent signee Spencer Watt: finding a seventh Canadian starter. With that out of the way, and with a vast majority of the team’s roster returning from last season, the Ticats look poised to once again challenge for the Grey Cup.

But there is still one big question the team needs to answer: who will start at short-side corner?

From the looks of it, that question will not be answered until after training camp. The team has assembled a plethora of players who will vie for the spot formerly occupied by Delvin Breaux, who signed with the New Orleans Saints this past winter. The Tiger-Cats look to have a number of options available to them to find Breaux’s replacement, with both veterans and newcomers alike vying to fill the hole left by Breaux’s departure.

One such veteran player is Brandon Stewart. Prior to signing with Hamilton last offseason, Stewart spent the majority of his five years in Winnipeg playing the wide-side corner position. Stewart played short-side halfback last season with mixed results. A move to the the corner could do wonders for Stewart in his second year with the Ticats.

Ed Gainey, Emanuel Davis, Rico Murray and the recently signed Johnny Sears, Jr. could also be in the mix. Murray is unlikely to move from his wide-side halfback position where his ballhawking skills — he led the team in the interceptions last season — are put to better use. Sears played a number of positions during his five-year stay in Winnipeg, most of them at linebacker, but he could make the transition to short-side corner.

The two most intriguing prospects, at least among the veterans, are Emanuel Davis and Ed Gainey. Both have starter’s experience, and both have filled in for Breaux at times during the last two seasons. Expect these two to be deep in the mix and do not be surprised if one of them gets the job, at least to start the season.

There is also a group of newcomers who will have a chance to win the job. Nick Brassell, Drayton Calhoun and Arthur Williams were all signed in April and participated in the team’s mini-camp last month. These players arrive in Hamilton with very little known about them, but Breaux was a virtual unknown when he came to camp in 2013 and quickly became one of the best short-side corners in the CFL. Perhaps lightning strikes twice and the Cats develop another unknown into a CFL all-star.

There is one final trio of players that will be vying for Breaux’s old spot, a group that consists of players with some NFL experience: Julien Posey, Ellis Lankster and Michael Coe. Posey played a couple games with the Miami Dolphins in 2012 and a handful more with the Cleveland Browns in 2013 before signing with the Ticats in mid-September last year. Coe spent all of the 2014 season with the Tabbies, playing in three games before an injury ended his season. But prior to that, he played with the Indianapolis Colts (the team that drafted him in 2007), Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants (where he won a Super Bowl in 2011), Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys. Lankster spent time with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers, with practice roster stops in Washington and Tampa Bay. NFL experience can only go so far, but all three have proven they can play at the top level, and should be right in the thick of things to take over for Breaux.

Just who replaces the 2014 league all-star remains a mystery right now, but the team has plenty of options for trying to fill the immense hole Breaux’s departure has left. For a team with so few questions heading into the season, answering the biggest one they have remaining might be the difference between going to and winning the Grey Cup.

Josh Smith

Josh Smith

Josh has been writing about the Ticats and the CFL since 2010 and was sporting his beard way before it was cool. Will be long after, too.
Josh Smith

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Josh has been writing about the Ticats and the CFL since 2010 and was sporting his beard way before it was cool. Will be long after, too.

4 Comments on One Final Hole to Fill: Replacing Delvin Breaux

  1. steve desio // May 18, 2015 at 11:58 am //

    That is a really great assesment. Aside from maybe Rico Murray none will be on the lockdown elite level of Breaux but they dont have to be.
    Emanueal Davis reminds me of Jahlil Carter. He is the young guy of the group of Vet of pros that came right from college to CFL and got good fast developing through his rookie and 2nd season. Sears Great addition to the mix.
    Depth Depth Depth at all the right places on defense.

    -Plenty of Import DBs with levels of expereince and talent.

    -Canadian Players heavy at DT. With top players who start or can start at different postion Butler, Stephan, Plesius.

    -Two stud Import DEs in now 3rd year stud froom 3 NFL yrs in Norwood and CFL to NFL and back Hickman. With current roster and a bevy of imports in Austin’s neg and non neg list. A surprising Gacson able to rotate in from the National part of roster by season’s end in his second 2014 season.

  2. Davis was pretty good at halfback too (I believe he was mostly on the wide/field side, wasn’t he?)

    I think Stewart plays just a little too far over the edge sometimes. He’s got the athleticism, but where Breaux was more subtle with his physical play (though to be honest he’d probably have drawn a lot more flags for that this year under the new rules) Stewart too often dished out some contact that cost the team. If he can tone that down, perhaps he has the coverage skills but I do wonder if his rougher style of play was to compensate for those.

    The great thing about the mix of players the team has assembled in the secondary is their versatility. Hopefully a couple of the new guys show that too, but it does allow for matching against various offenses and mixing up the looks Steinauer can put out there.

  3. I liked Lankster when we had him here the first time, and he had to be pretty good to make it to the NFL. It wouldn’t surprise me if he won the job in TC, possibly with Stewart in backup; if he has the wheels to actually cover, instead of the outright mugging of SBs we saw last season. I fear he may cause too many penalties under the new rules if he continues his ways.

    Do you know if Lankster was on our Neg List and wanted to play, therefore KA had to sign him, in the same vein as Tiquan Underwood? If so, with the recent success of our team, we may be seeing more of these players giving us a MUCH closer look than they have in the past…

  4. S McBride (TFMCB ) // May 18, 2015 at 10:00 pm //

    Breaux is a tough act to follow but it appears as if the coaching staff will have a good groups of players in camp to compete for the job and backup. It’ll be interesting to see who wins the spot.

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