As the Tiger-Cats prepare to face their first challenge of the 2023 regular season, Hamilton players are excited to meet a high-quality opponent while understanding their challenge. Winnipeg has played in the last three Grey Cup championship games, defeating the Tiger-Cats in 2019 and 2021. In a post-practice interview, Simoni Lawrence talked about facing Winnipeg “They have been to the Grey Cup the last three seasons, and we are pretty much a standard in the league since we have been here since 2013.”
Traditionally, the Tiger-Cats have a slow start to their season and then get better throughout it. Head coach Orlondo Steinauer tends to focus on the process of preparation rather than discussing the challenges that his team will face each week, and that has been his message to start the 2023 season as well. After practice this week, Steinauer said, “We are going to prepare for the opponent, but we are also gonna work on ourselves.”
Wide receiver Tim White and linebacker Jameer Thurman mentioned that the team is excited to face Winnipeg to open the season. In a post-practice interview, Thurman said, “I am excited to get out there and showcase what we have been working on.” Tim White mentioned that he wants to build off a successful 2022 season “I have much bigger goals, but the team comes first.” White reflected on the team’s approach to this week’s game at Winnipeg “It’s gonna be fun; it’s gonna be a great battle.”
While the Tiger-Cats prepare on the field to play against the Blue Bombers, Hamilton has also made tweaks to their roster to give themselves a better chance of success. Those moves include re-activating kicker Seth Small, obtaining defensive lineman Jonathan Kongbo from the BC Lions in a trade, and signing National running back Ryth-Jean Giraud. They are also addressing injury issues that are carrying over from training camp and trying to ensure that they are as healthy as possible to start the season.
A Small Kick In The Right Direction
Kicker Seth Small missed the Tiger-Cats training camp this pre-season, but that is because he was granted time off by the Tiger-Cats organization due to the birth of his first child. While Small was away from the Tiger-Cats, kicking was still on his mind. “Kicking is my therapy; even if it weren’t my profession, I would still be kicking.” Orlondo Steinauer mentioned Small’s value to the Tiger-Cats; he said: “He is a pro, a great person, doesn’t get rattled, or he doesn’t show it.”
Kongbo Gets A Fresh Start
The Tiger-Cats decided to execute a trade with the BC Lions to obtain defensive lineman Jonathan Kongbo. The Lions signed Kongbo recently; he spent two seasons with Winnipeg. Multiple social media sources stated that Kongbo was not a “good fit” for the Lions, and they needed a trade partner for the defensive lineman. Hamilton decided to trade a conditional 4th-round pick in the 2024 CFL draft that the Tiger-Cats had acquired when they traded quarterback Dane Evans to the Lions in February.
Sometimes what a player like Kongbo needs is a different environment so that they can focus and be productive. So far, Kongbo feels he will be an excellent fit for the Tiger-Cat’s defense. “You’re getting a player that loves to compete, that loves to get after it, and loves to win.” Hamilton defensive coordinator Mark Washington also had positive things to say about Kongbo “I have seen a guy that is engaged and is very excited to pick up the defense and work with his teammates.” If the Tiger-Cats can find a good fit for Kongbo in their defensive line unit, they will have added another high-quality pass rusher to an already loaded defensive line unit.
Tiger-Cats Add Running Back Ryth-Jean Giraud
The Tiger-Cats announced earlier this week that they signed National running back Ryth-Jean Giraud. Giraud is a 5’11”, 216-pound native of Montreal, Quebec. He played U-Sports football at the University of Montreal. The Montreal Alouettes drafted Giraud in the 5th round of the 2022 CFL Draft, and he spent a portion of 2022 with the Alouettes but was most recently with the Calgary Stampeders.
Week 1 Mid-Week Injury Report
To start the first week of the 2023 season, the Tiger-Cats have had to manage several injury issues. Defensive lineman Mason Bennett (shoulder), defensive lineman Ja’Gared Davis (knee), wide receiver Tyler Ternowski (hamstring), offensive lineman Chris Van Zeyl (hips), and wide receiver Duke Williams (knee) have all been limited in practice this week. Three players have not participated in practice activities so far this week offensive lineman Joel Figueroa (knee), fullback Myles Manalo (head), and offensive lineman Alex Fontana (knee).
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