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Ticats quarterback Collaros not worried about rematch with Eskimos

09/19/2014 05:39 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 01:02 EDT
HAMILTON - Zach Collaros isn't losing sleep thinking about what happened the last time the Hamilton Tiger-Cats faced the Edmonton Eskimos.

The Ticats' quarterback was knocked out of Edmonton's 28-24 win July 4 after taking a hit from defensive lineman Odell Willis. Willis was fined by the CFL but Collaros was forced to miss five games with concussion-like symptoms.

The two teams meet again Saturday night at Tim Hortons Field and Collaros said there's no hard feelings.

"It's football. It's what we signed up for, it's part of the game," Colloras said. "The league deemed it a dirty hit, but he's just trying to do his job . . . It's how people play the game.

"If I was his teammate I'd probably say: 'Hey, great job. You just knocked the quarterback out, to."

Colloras returned in time for Hamilton's Labour Day showdown against the Toronto Argonauts and is 2-1 over that span. The Ticats (3-7) have won both of their previous games at Tim Hortons Field, including an impressive 28-3 victory over the defending Grey Cup-champion Saskatchewan Roughriders last weekend.

Hamilton faced a Saskatchewan team with backup Tino Sunseri under centre in place of injured incumbent Darian Durant. But the Ticats defence won't be so lucky against Edmonton (8-3) as Mike Reilly will make a second straight start after missing the club's two previous games against the Calgary Stampeders.

Reilly was 22-of-32 passing for 271 yards and also ran for 56 yards and two TDs in leading Edmonton past Montreal 33-16 last weekend. All three of the Eskimos losses this year have been to the Stampeders.

"He's mobile and strong," Ticats head coach/GM Kent Austin said of Reilly. "He's not just going to pull the ball down and run.

"He breaks tackles. He gets out of a lot of trouble and that's an issue for us."

The Ticats will also have to account for Adarius Bowman, the CFL's leading receiver with 75 catches for 997 yards and six TDs.

"When he's called upon, he makes plays," said Austin. "He's a playmaker so it's a challenge for us with him."

Edmonton's offence is ranked second in the CFL in scoring (26.7 points per game) and tops in time of possession, controlling the ball, on average, for more than half of the game (30 minutes 59 seconds).

Defensively, the Eskimos are second overall in sacks with 33, something Collaros and his offensive line must consider. But Edmonton head coach Chris Jones said his gameplan isn't simply letting Willis and Co. 'loose' on Hamilton's offence.

"We're just trying to get here and play good solid football," Jones said. "We want to physical, get in and out of the huddle, play fast and come out of here with a win."

And Jones said Hamilton's offence will present Edmonton's defence with challenges.

"Zach Collaros is back and seems a lot more in tune offensively," Jones said. "He's getting the ball out of his hands.

"Certainly (slotback) Andy Fantuz may have something to do with that. The fact he's back, they seem to have a very good connection right now and we hear No. 32 (running back C.J. Gable) is possibly practising. He would certainly be a big weapon."

Gable will definitely return for Hamilton after missing four games with a foot injury. He had four touchdowns — two rushing, two receiving — in his first six games. And Fantuz had 11 catches for 108 yards against Saskatchewan.

Also returning is receiver/kick-returner Brandon Banks — who has a 97-yard punt return TD this season — after sustaining a lower body injury. Terrell Sinkfield was the CFL's special-teams player of the week after accumulating 167 return yards and scoring on a 57-yard punt return versus Saskatchewan, but went on the injured list.

"Brandon had a deeper understanding of our offence," said Austin. "He can do a little bit more right now in our offence."

Hamilton's defence will be without stalwart Canadian defensive tackle Brian Bulcke, who suffered a season-ending torn bicep against Saskatchewan. Defensive lineman Justin Hickman, back with the Ticats after two years with the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, also won't play.

Hickman was a CFL all-star in 2011 after recording a league-best 13 sacks. He played 12 games with the Colts in 2012 but missed the entire '13 campaign with a foot injury before being released June 18.

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