June 12, 2014

Plenty of options in Ticats return game

Gregory Campbell/Ticats.ca

Isaac Owusu | Ticats.ca Staff

HAMILTON — Jeff Reinebold, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ special teams coordinator, draws inspiration from a prominent historical figure when trying to explain the competition for the kickoff return spots.

“I think it was Elizabeth Taylor that once said that a girl can never be too thin. Well, a football coach can never have too many good players,” he joked.

While Coach Reinebold had his socialites mixed up, as it was Wallis Simpson who boldly proclaimed, “A woman can’t be too rich or too thin,” his sentiment could not be more true.

After nine days of training camp, the Ticats return game features a stable of incredible talent.

“The thing that’s been most satisfying for all of us is the fact that we have a number of guys,” Reinebold said.

In the second season as the head of the special teams under the Kent Austin regime, he finds himself with an embarrassment of riches.

“Brandon Collins can do it, he hasn’t had the chance but he’s an option. Tavoy (Moore) can do it, Lindsey (Lamar) has done it and done it extremely well,” he said.

“We all saw what Brandon Banks added for us last year. We got a good Canadian in Jahmeek Taylor. (Quincy) McDuffie, he showed real flashes. (Luke) Tasker is a good returner. We barely talk about Cary Koch, who took one 80 yards for Edmonton against Montreal. So the depth of the overall talent of the returners is outstanding,” he added.

Banks’ speed makes him arguably the fastest player on the field, but now that he is attending his first CFL training camp, he is finally fully caught on to the Canadian game.

“This off-season I took a lot of time to learn the rules of the game,” he said.

“When I first got here I was trying to beat everyone to the sideline. Now I know how to get in the wedge and get north, instead of just east-west.”

Joining the team in September of last season, Banks played eight games highlighted by his 107-yard missed field goal return for a touchdown. He placed second on the squad in kick returns with 319 yards on just 14 opportunities. He knows his role on the team calls for much more.

“I want to go out and contribute at wide receiver. Being able to running routes catch balls. Since I’m not a natural wide receiver, I spent my whole off-season doing that.”

Lamar played just five regular season games in 2013. He totaled 460 yards on 14 returns, including a 104-yard kickoff return for a touchdown on the team’s first 2013 possession.

Training camp gives him a chance to get that spark back.

“For me it’s just good to be back here, catching the ball, seeing it in the air and running around,” he said.

Heading into year two, he intends on separating himself by making the most of his skillset.

“Versatility and speed are the two biggest things. The ability to go out and do kick returns, punt returns, receiver, running back and all those different things,” he stated.