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Sophomore Linden Gaydosh looking forward to training camp with Ticats

04/10/2015 05:01 EDT | Updated 06/11/2015 07:59 EDT
Linden Gaydosh is healthy and showing no ill effects from the back and foot injuries that plagued his first go-around in the NFL.

But the Hamilton Tiger-Cats sophomore defensive lineman isn't about to call it a normal off-season until he completes his first CFL training camp in June.

"Then I'll say normal," the burly six-foot-four, 305-pound defensive tackle told The Canadian Press on Friday. "I've got to make it through one of those first."

Gaydosh's trepidation comes honestly.

In 2013, the native of Peace River, Alta., required season-ending back surgery while in camp with the Carolina Panthers. He returned to the NFL club last summer with a clean bill of health but suffered a foot injury and was ultimately released in August.

Gaydosh signed with the Ticats on Sept. 4, more than a year after they took the University of Calgary star No. 1 in the 2013 CFL draft. Gaydosh's arrival was timely as two weeks later veteran defensive lineman Brian Bulcke suffered a season-ending torn bicep.

"It wasn't that I wasn't ready, I just didn't expect that type of injury so soon," Gaydosh said. "But I thought everything went pretty well and pretty smoothly.

"A couple of hiccups here and there but overall it went pretty good."

Gaydosh appeared in nine regular-season games — two starts — registering four tackles, two tackles for a loss and a pass knockdown. He added four tackles in two playoff contests, including Hamilton's heart-breaking 20-16 Grey Cup loss to Calgary.

More importantly, Gaydosh was able to move past his injuries and again be a contributing, everyday player, something he hadn't been since his university days.

"I needed it, I just needed to be able to get back on the field where I could practise, go full out and not have to hold back," Gaydosh said. "I was able to get back out there and get that love of the game back.

"It was re-ignited that first game while warming up . . . I couldn't believe I was back on the field. I wanted to be able to put (injuries) to the test. They've held up strong since and I don't see any reason why they wouldn't now."

Gaydosh isn't lacking confidence heading into his first training camp with Hamilton. After all, he's healthy, has had a good off-season of training thus far and has first-hand experience in the Ticats' defensive schemes. He's looking forward to the club's mini-camp later this month as well as the start of training camp in June.

"I've got confidence in my abilities from playing last season," he said. "I'd like to be able to show them where I stand right from the start of training camp.

"I've got experience and familiarity with what I'm going into so that always helps. It's always better to be put into the system right from the start of training camp then kind of jumping in midway through the season when all the adjustments are being made and everyone's already got their solid base of knowledge."

But preparing for training camp hasn't been the lone thought on Gaydosh's mind this off-season. The bitterness of Hamilton's Grey Cup loss — a game the Ticats dropped after kick-returner Brandon Banks' 90-yard punt return TD with 35 seconds remaining was nullified by penalty — has always lingered.

"It's always there," he said. "I've fallen back to it often this off-season . . . unfortunately, the result is always the same."

Not surprisingly, fixing that result in 2015 will be Gaydosh's primary goal once training camp opens.

"That's the mentality I plan on walking in with when I get there," he said.

Gaydosh only remains under contract for this season but that's by design because he hasn't closed the door on a return to the NFL.

"The NFL is always in my head," he said. "I didn't exactly leave on my terms so I'd like to go and get another shot . . . but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it."

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