Wednesday 8 February 2012

Hickman Signs With Indy

The Ti-Cats have lost their second player to the National Football League this off-season (Marcus Thigpen signed with the Miami Dolphins back in January) as Justin Hickman has signed a two-year contract with the Indianapolis Colts.

Hickman was a CFL All-Star in 2011, tying for the league lead in sacks with 13. His move to the NFL is really no surprise, as Hickman joins Cameron Wake, John Chick, Phillip Hunt, Ricky Foley and current Tiger-Cat Stevie Baggs as CFL sack masters who got their shot at in the NFL in the last few seasons (of those five, only Baggs and Foley have so far returned).

Hickman is going to have to switch positions if he is to make it in the NFL. He is undersized for a Defensive Lineman, so he will have to play outside Linebacker. Players like Wake and former Ti-Cat Garrett McIntyre have successfully made the switch, so Hickman could as well.

Hickman's departure has an impact on the Tiger-Cats beyond just filling his spot. Hickman leaving means that Stevie Baggs is almost guaranteed to return. Losing one impact pass rusher hurts, losing two would be a deathblow. And considering that Defensive Coordinator Casey Creehan said he prefers to rush four and put eight in coverage, Baggs is needed now more than ever. A week ago, I did not think Baggs would be on the team in 2012. Now it seems almost impossible that he would be released.

But the Cats will have to find a way to replace Hickman, and it won't be easy. The team lost a great young player, and I would like to wish Justin Hickman the best of luck as he tries to make his NFL dream come true.

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