With Ticats mini-camp set to begin, Collaros still the big unknown

Hamilton Tiger-Cats quarterback Zach Collaros is still recovering from a torn ACL he suffered last September and is unlikely to take part in on-field activities as the Ticats open their 2016 mini-camp on Tuesday. But after endless days of mostly solo rehab, Collaros is keen to get with teammates and talk some shop.

“I’m looking forward to it – it’s football and I’m a football junkie,” Collaros said. “It’s going to be refreshing watching film with the quarterbacks and just talking about the game. It’s going to be a good time.”

It’s also a welcome distraction from his usual conversational topic these days: how his surgically-repaired joint is coming along.

“It seems to be the first question everybody asks me but I have a very generic answer: it’s good, it’s on pace and I’m doing everything you can do,” Collaros said. “Which is all true.”

Collaros and fellow quarterbacks Jeremiah Masoli, Jeff Mathews and Jacory Harris will be among the few veteran players at the three day mini-camp. Instead, general manager Eric Tillman says the team has elected to bring in close to 60 first-year and neg list players for a crash course on all things CFL.

“We’re looking at where do they fit? How do they measure up athletically up? It also gives us the ability to find out how well guys learn, how quickly they process information,” Tillman said. “It’s an opportunity for our coaches to take names on the board and get to know them as people, make them real.”

Tillman says head coach Kent Austin decided against inviting most of the team’s big names, all of whom are familiar with the schemes and culture of the organization.

“We feel good about the nucleus on our club and what Kent wants to do is focus on the younger guys, the last pieces of the puzzle,” Tillman said. “Competition is great for an organization and this is a tool to ensure that we have highest level of competition going forward.”

The kicking game will also be a focus this week as the team looks to replace the departed Justin Medlock, who signed with Winnipeg as a free agent this winter. The team worked out several candidates at Tim Hortons Field earlier this month.

“There will a be a couple of new kickers for us to look at and that’s going to continue to be an evaluation process between now and training camp,” Tillman said. “We’ve already looked at several kickers, we’ll look at a few more and we’ve identified a number of options.”

Weather permitting, the on-field workouts and meetings are slated to take place at Tim Hortons Field, allowing the club to take advantage of its state-of-the-art set up. It’s also a showcase for the team, a chance to make a good first impression on players still on the fence about playing in Canada.

“Players see our stadium, our facilities and how first class everything is, it puts our organization and league in a very positive light,” Tillman said, noting that several CFL teams held their mini-camps in Florida.

“If we didn’t have this new facility we’d probably be down south but it’s such a nice set up, we think it’s important to have it in Hamilton.”

Collaros has spent his entire off-season in the city to facilitate his rehab, foregoing his usual return to his Ohio hometown. This week, he plans to make himself available for a sounding board for the newcomers trying to pick up the complexities of the Ticat offence and he’ll continue his rehab as he aims to get ready for training camp and the season opener.

“I’ve been throwing the ball around, doing cone drills, shuffling, sprinting, backpedaling, change of direction,” Collaros said. “The last phase is reactionary stuff where I don’t know exactly where or when I’ll be cutting.”

But as the on-field preparation for the 2016 season gets underway, the biggest question mark is still when Collaros will be ready to play. It won’t answered this week, no matter how many times it gets asked.

“I can’t answer that,” Collaros said. “I really don’t know.”

Notes: the Ticats announced the signings of offensive lineman Terrence Campbell, and wide receivers Greg Thurmond and Cass White on Monday. The club also inked eight defensive backs last Friday.

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.
Drew Edwards
Drew Edwards
About Drew Edwards (1526 Articles)
Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.

21 Comments on With Ticats mini-camp set to begin, Collaros still the big unknown

  1. Santa Drew!

  2. Cool beard Drew… Looks like you could audition for Duck Dynasty or the Reverant…

    Or if you add a man bun, plaid shirt and skinny jeans you could be the only Hipster CFL reporter…

    All kidding aside… Be your own man… do what’s right for you and ignore all of us dufusses (sp?)…

    Just saying…

    Cheers… Snake

  3. Drew..what happened? I saw a bearded guy impersonating you on 3Downnation and he had more hair on the bottom of his head than on the top. Man, he needed a shave!

  4. Mikefrmthhammer // April 25, 2016 at 5:59 pm //

    Hey Drew I know you had your daughter blogging for you a few years back to keep up the streak, but why is your old man doing so now. Still recovering from Brantford to Ancaster? 😉

    BTW don’t be swayed by any comments you might read here. If you think it is right, then it is, by definition. 🙂

  5. moncton ticats fan // April 25, 2016 at 6:46 pm //

    That beard is a good start on a ZZ Top style!! Why not keep it going for a few more month/years, and go git yourself a guitar and maybe even go on tour?? Hee Hee Just kiddin’ The beard looks fine, and I’m just jealous I couldn’t do it in six years, let alone six months. And like others have said, if you like it and want it, that is all that counts.

  6. Catsfaninhogtown // April 25, 2016 at 7:02 pm //

    Who needs a new kicker– we have video of Hugh O’Neil! I remember last June that you referred to his beard as “magnificent”, we al should have seen this coming. I think it looks great.

  7. I look forward to your coverage Drew even if I have to turn the monitor off until you trim it up a bit unless you are not going to cut a whisker until the Ticats win the Grey Cup.

  8. Ticats63 // April 25, 2016 at 8:13 pm //

    Lose the beard, buddy, or at least wear the accompanying Mennonite hat. It looks ridiculous! Movember was over Nov 30! Are you still married? If I went more than 2-3 days without shaving, I’d lose more wife brownie points than it worth. Oh, were you saying something about the Ticats?…I got distracted.

  9. TiCat Girl // April 25, 2016 at 10:03 pm //

    We just want Zach to take enough time that he is certain that he has fully recovered. We don’t want him injuring himself again . He is a very integral part of our team !

  10. Interesting how Ticats are still recruiting QBs… Maybe Austin has some doubts about Collaros’ durability and future…

    Lots of great CFL QBs have shortened their careers through injuries affecting performance… Travis Lulay, Drew Tate & Buck Pierce all come to mind… Really hope this doesn’t happen to Zach…

    Just saying…

    Cheers… Snake

    • I am not so sure it is worries about injuries so much as the high turnover as well as “better is better”.

      Lefevour went Hamilton to Montreal to the NFL so what guarantee does KA & company have that the backup QB corps will be around long?

      I would think that on it’s own would be enough to want to see what is out there. Then too, in recent years other teams have lost two QBs in the same game.

  11. Good point Snake. Masoli is “game ready” and I have not given up on Matthews. Could be a “surpriser” in the stable of new guys. However, right now Zack is The Man.

  12. Drew, about the beard…yikes. You are not Father John Misty. You look 20 years older.

  13. Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t Hugh O’Neill still an unsigned free agent?

  14. Collaros doesn’t know because, well, he doesn’t know, even a rough estimate, which is not good. If he’s back before August I’ll be shocked. It’s your team for now Jeremiah…run with it.

    • He will have to run with it because he has not shown himself to be much of a passer other than the occasional glimpse. I will be surprised and disappointed if he is the starter on opening day.

      • Mikefrmthhammer // April 27, 2016 at 11:49 am //

        Mark I have to disagree with you. He almost got us to the Grey Cup in 2015. Last year’s East Final stats:

        Jeremiah Masoli
        Career-high mark
        Masoli completed 71% of his passes after entering the game with a 48.5% career mark _____________________
        Career-high in passing yards _____________________
        Comp/Att 30/42
        TD 2


        Sure it is only one game, but I think his game is on the up-swing based on it.

        • Austin and Condell totally re-wrote the offensive playbook for Masoli for one game because they had no other alternative. Austin will find a quarterback to play his offence before he will change his offence to suit the strengths or disguise the weaknesses of Masoli. I don’t dislike the guy but I don’t think he is the answer. I remember Ticats trading away Damon Allen who won 11 or 12 games for us in 1992 to start the backup that came in and won a playoff game that year. Can’t remember his name but he was the first of 6 or 7 quarterbacks to start for us in 1993 – this guy was not a stiff either – he was runner up for the Heissman several years before.

  15. John Williams // April 27, 2016 at 1:36 pm //

    Mark – You’re thinking of Don McPherson.

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