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Veteran receiver Bakari Grant not shy about making Ticats' teammates accountable

06/04/2015 05:54 EDT | Updated 06/04/2016 05:59 EDT
HAMILTON - Bakari Grant isn't shying away from making the Hamilton Tiger-Cats more accountable this season.

The six-foot-four, 195-pound receiver showed that during training camp Wednesday at McMaster University. Grant took exception to Taylor Reed's tackle on running back C.J. Gable and raced across the field to voice his displeasure, touching off a skirmish that coaches had to break up.

"What I tell some of the young guys is we went to the Grey Cup twice in the past two years and we lost," Grant said. "We have one goal, and that's to win the Grey Cup which demands perfection from players as well as coaches.

"It shouldn't take the coaches getting on us all the time. Sometimes it's going to take the players and you saw me and some of the defensive guys get into it but it's not disrespect. It's all love, that's the type of team we have right now."

Veteran linebacker Simoni Lawrence downplayed the incident, saying that's going to happen during camp.

"I mean, it's football," he said. "If I'm doing this (poking reporter's chest for emphasis) all day are you going to just smile at me?

"The special thing about it is everybody after can just look at each other, smile and shake hands. It's all understood. It's like tying your shoes in the morning, it's no big deal."

Being a vocal leader isn't new for Grant, who says he comes by it naturally.

"I've been around for bad seasons, I've experienced good seasons," he said. "It's not me wanting to be a more vocal leader but it has to be said and if nobody is going to say it then I will.

"It's better when you have a team that returns so many guys because you can jump on guys a little bit because they know it's coming from a place of respect. It's not me disrespecting you as a player, it's me saying we as a team need to be better."

The Ticats return a veteran-laden squad in 2015 with many of the club's starters having been around for Hamilton's consecutive Grey Cup losses to Saskatchewan and Calgary, respectively.

But Grant, who had 58 catches for 605 yards and three TDs last year, said the losses still bother him.

"(Ticats head coach/GM) Kent Austin in our first team meeting alluded to it," Grant said. "As soon as he said the words it boiled my blood and just thinking about it right now I get this emotion that I want to hit somebody, I want to go out and play.

"We're hungry. Last year we came back, 'Dang, we made it, we almost got it.' This year, it's 'We should've had it. We should've had it and we're going back to get it.' That's it, we're back to get it."

Training camp can become an unsettled time for a club as many new, unproven players battle for playing time. But with so many veterans returning in Hamilton, Grant said it doesn't take Ticats long to get back into sync.

"It (off-season) is like a long bye week," Grant said. "You can talk about team chemistry, you can talk about guys flying around and having fun but you want to do it with your brothers.

"You're out here spending a lot of time with each other and if you don't like the guys you're around, it makes it tough. You'll see that level of love, that level of appreciation for each other . . . I guess that's the continuity that we speak of."

Grant said the Ticats had plenty of vocal leaders when he arrived in 2011, notably quarterback Kevin Glenn, centre Marwan Hage and receivers Arland Bruce III and Maurice Mann.

"You never become someone who was here before but I think you learn," he said. "You'll see me get on some young guys to bring them up to par.

"It took me this long to learn, it should take them a little less time because I'm trying to help them."

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