Monday, 28 May 2012

Training Camp Preview: Defensive Line

With training camp about to start (rookies report on May 30th, veterans on June 3rd) it's time to look at each position group as we head into the 2012 season. Today, it's the defensive line.

Since I missed yesterday, I decided to double-up today and tomorrow. Earlier today, I looked at the offensive line, so now it's time to look at the defensive line.

Like the offensive line, the defensive line is an area of concern for more than a few people. After seeing Justin Hickman depart for the NFL and with the release of fan favourite Stevie Baggs, the Ticats look woefully thin along the front four. Much like the offensive line, I think this might be a tad overblown.

The team signed Greg Peach away from Edmonton in the hopes that he could replace Hickman (Baggs was still a member of the team when Peach was signed), so that means that the Cats only need to find one other edge rusher to compliment Peach. I thought that person would be Shawn Crable, and I turned out to be very, very wrong (Crable was released in mid May). The Cats will use training camp to find the gy to take the other end position.

In the middle, the Cats are actually pretty well stacked. The hope was that Arnaud Gascon-Nadon would be in the mix, but it looks like he has decided to return to Laval for his final season. Even without Gascon-Nadon, the Tabbies have Eddie Steele, Maurice Forbes and Robert Rose on the roster. I'd expect Steele and Rose to start, with Forbes as a backup.

The Ti-Cats have a fairly good track record when it comes to finding hidden gems along the defensive line. Khari Long (10 sacks in 2009), Garrett McIntyre (eight sacks in 2010) and Justin Hickman (13 sacks in 2011) were all unknown players when they signed with the Tiger-Cats. There could already be another diamond in the rough on the Hamilton roster. All the changes means that new players will be forced to step up. Whether they can or not will something worth watching over the course of the season.

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