Posts Tagged ‘hamilton tiger cats’

Johnny Football is on the move.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats dealt quarterback Johnny Manziel and offensive linemen Tony Washington and Landon Rice to the Montreal Alouettes on Sunday for Canadian defensive end Jamaal Westerman and receiver Chris Williams as well as 2020 and 2021 first-round picks.

Manziel, 25, made headlines across North America when he signed a two-year contract with Hamilton prior to the start of training camp. The former Heisman Trophy winner appeared in both of the Ticats’ exhibition games — completing 21-of-31 passes for 168 yards and a TD while rushing six times for 19 yards — but didn’t see any regular-season action backing up incumbent Jeremiah Masoli.

Masoli started the season impressively with four straight 300-yard passing performances and a record-tying nine overall dating back to last year. But that streak ended with Thursday night’s 31-20 home loss to Saskatchewan as Masoli completed 20-of-28 passing for 184 yards and an interception.

And that prompted some football pundits to suggest it was time for Manziel to get some playing time with Hamilton.

“Professional salute & respect for ↕Ticats ↕ticatmitchell &Coach Jones for doing the rgt thing.Thank y’all for the opp &great luck in future!” Manziel’s agent, Erik Burkhardt, tweeted Sunday night.

With the departure of Manziel, Dane Evans, a rookie from Tulsa, becomes Masoli’s backup. Hamilton (2-3) hosts the Ottawa Redblacks (3-2) on Saturday afternoon in a battle of the East Division’s top two teams.

Shortly after the deal was made Hamilton announced that it would give away $100 vouchers to fans who bought a Manziel Ticats jersey to purchase ‘new gear’ for Saturday’s game at Tim Hortons Field.

The trade reunites Manziel with Montreal head coach Mike Sherman, who convinced Manziel to play at Texas A&M after he verbally committed to Oregon. As a redshirt freshman, Manziel threw for 3,706 yards and 26 touchdowns while rushing for 1,410 yards and 21 TDs en route to winning the ’12 Heisman Trophy.

The six-foot, 210-pound Manziel was taken in the first round, No. 22 overall, by the Cleveland Browns in the 2014 NFL draft but was released in March 2016 after posting a 2-6 record over two tumultuous campaigns. He appeared in 14 games overall, throwing for 1,675 yards and seven TD passes.

Montreal (1-4) has scored a league-low 69 points this season while allowing a league-high 148 points. What’s more, starter Drew Willy suffered his second injury of the season in Saturday’s 25-8 loss to the Calgary Stampeders, leaving Sherman to go with third-stringer Matt Shiltz for three quarters of the game.

Backup Jeff Mathews, who replaced Willy earlier this season, is also out four-to-six weeks with foot injury. Montreal takes on the Edmonton Eskimos (3-2) on Thursday night.

“We have acquired an exceptional quarterback with undeniable talent,” Montreal GM Kavis Reed said in a statement. “With his great mobility, his athletic abilities and his instinct we believe that he will have a positive impact on our offence.

“Landon Rice and Tony Washington are two skilled players that will considerably solidify our offensive line.”

The six-foot-seven, 318-pound Washington, a nine-year veteran, fills a need for Montreal, which recently released starting tackle Fulton Xavier.

“Thank you to the city of Hamilton for these last 2 amazing years! For the love and support you guys have shown! Crazy biz doesn’t always make sense… keepmoving nextchapter,” Washington tweeted Sunday night.

Westerman, 33, had 19 tackles and three sacks in five games with the Alouettes, who he joined as a free agent this off-season. The six-foot-three, 249-pound Westerman has appeared in 52 career regular-season games with Winnipeg (2015-17) and the Alouettes (2018), registering 137 tackles, 35 sacks and four forced fumbles.

Westerman also played in 58 career NFL games with the New York Jets (2009-11), Arizona Cardinals (2012), Indianapolis Colts (2012), Buffalo Bills (2013) and Pittsburgh Steelers (2013).

Williams, 30, returns for a second stint with Hamilton, The five-foot-eight, 165-pound speedster began his CFL career with the Ticats (2010-12) and was the league’s top rookie before being named its top special-teams performer two years later.

He spent time in the NFL with New Orleans (2013) and Chicago Bears (2013-14) before returning to the CFL with Ottawa (2015-16) and was a member of the Redblacks’ 2016 Grey Cup-winning squad. After spending last season with the B.C. Lions, Williams was dealt to Montreal on Dec. 12, 2017.

He had 15 catches for 283 yards and a TD in four games with the Alouettes.

Johnny Manziel has made a very positive first impression on June Jones, head coach of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

“I’ve been pleasantly surprised the last three weeks what a good teammate he is, how smart he is, how he sees the game,” Jones told David Newton of ESPN. “He should be playing in the National Football League and I believe he will when he gets through with us.”

Manziel reignited his career in May by signing a two-year contract with the Tiger-Cats after spending the last couple of years addressing his well-documented issues off the gridiron.

The former Heisman Trophy winner and Cleveland Browns first-round pick impressed in the preseason, but served as the backup quarterback for Jeremiah Masoli in Hamilton’s opening contest of the regular season.

“It’ll take two years,” Jones said of Manziel’s desired return to the NFL. “They’re (NFL executives, coaches) waiting to see that he’s taken care of his off-the-field problems.”

Jones also described Manziel as “humble,” and added that “he’s growing up every day.”

The 25-year-old Manziel is expected to be Masoli’s backup again Friday when the 0-1 Tiger-Cats take on the Edmonton Eskimos.

Johnny Manziel handed the ball off with seven seconds left in the first half of his CFL preseason debut Friday, watched his tailback get immediately tackled, then jogged toward the locker room as the final seconds ticked off the clock.

One problem: in the CFL, the clock must expire with a final play.

Manziel retreated to the huddle, took one more snap with the clock reading 0:00, then jogged off again with his teammates in tow.

“Still feeling it out. It’s a different game,” Manziel said afterward of the adjustment to Canadian football’s unique rules and rhythms.

He learned some important lessons against live fire Friday, and finished the game a respectable 9-of-11 passing for 80 yards with another 10 yards on two carries. Manziel made plays with his legs, found open receivers on scrambles, and showed flashes of why his new head coach, June Jones, suggested last year that Manziel will become the best player in CFL history.

At other times, Manziel looked very much like a player with a scant two weeks of practice under his belt, too often bailing out of the pocket by running backwards or into the arms of a waiting defender.

With his personal life back on track, Manziel has merely begun the process of rehabilitating his football acumen. If he’s ever to become Johnny Football again, he must first learn to become Johnny Canadian Football.

It won’t happen right away. Jones has made it clear Manziel will not start when the Tiger-Cats open their regular season June 16 in Calgary. A backup role behind former Oregon passer and seven-year CFL veteran Jeremiah Masoli is the best Manziel can do for now.

Indeed, it’s unrealistic to expect Manziel to take the CFL by storm. Doug Flutie and Warren Moon, quarterbacks who dominated in Canada before their NFL success, each needed a full season to adjust to the CFL and its eccentricities.

And Manziel has no reason to hurry. NFL teams will monitor his progress – scouts from at least two teams, including New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan, were scheduled to attend Friday’s game – but Manziel’s deal with the Tiger-Cats ties him to the CFL for two seasons, meaning his next shot at the NFL won’t come until 2020.

For now, Manziel must focus on acclimating to CFL rules with the goal of eventually rediscovering the on-field magic that won him the Heisman Trophy as a freshman and made him a first-round pick in the NFL before it all came crashing down in a mess of booze, clandestine Vegas trips, and a domestic violence case.

For a place to focus on football and only football, Manziel couldn’t do much better than Hamilton. An hour down the highway from Toronto and its big-city vibe and temptations, Hamilton is sort of like a quainter Canadian Pittsburgh. Tim Hortons Field, home of the Tiger-Cats, towers among the red brick homes that surround it. Smokestacks of the steel mills are visible from almost every seat in the house. For $15, you can literally park on the front lawn of a home across from the stadium’s main entrance.

Hamilton’s blue-collar fans will embrace a hard worker on his second (or is it third?) chance, but they won’t put up with a diva. That’s one lesson Manziel appears to have taken to heart. He knows he can’t erase his past, and he’s made peace with that. He’s motivated by it.

On multiple occasions Friday, Toronto Argonauts defenders reminded Manziel of his infamy – and he gave it right back.

“I’m not here to be pushed over,” Manziel said after the game. “You can come at me because my name’s in the papers, my name’s on TV. You can come at me. I’m not backing down. I’m here for a reason. I’m here to play ball. I’m not going to be treated like s—.”

This is a long game for Manziel. He started at the very bottom, and he has a long way to go before he approaches anything close to the top. He’s finally on the way up, though.

Maybe the clock really did hit 0:00 on Manziel’s career, but in Canada, you still get to run one more play.

Johnny Manziel is set to make his CFL debut with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in Friday’s preseason game against the Toronto Argonauts.

It’s been more than two years since Manziel played his final NFL game with the Cleveland Browns, but he’s ready to get going.

“It’s going to be fun just getting back on the field, getting the chance to play, take some snaps, and do what I love doing,” Manziel told reporters Thursday, after the team’s final walk-through. “I’m excited from a personal standpoint just to get back, take some snaps, and run around.”

But head coach June Jones reaffirmed a previous statement that he views Jeremiah Masoli as the Ti-Cats starter for the entirety of the coming season, by saying he’ll start Friday’s game.

“Masoli is going to play until I feel good about it,” Jones said of the preseason game. “And then the rest of the game will be whatever we decide – 15 plays each, or whatever.”

The former Cleveland Brown and Heisman Trophy winner has been out of professional football since March 2016, and has spent much of the last two years addressing his well-documented issues off the field. The 25-year-old will enter Tiger-Cats training camp below Jeremiah Masoli on the depth chart.

“I have a lot of respect for this league,” said Manziel, who acknowledged he expects to encounter a learning curve before he’s able to thrive in the CFL.

“Johnny Football” added that he plans to fulfill both years of his contract before thinking about a move back to the NFL, noting he’s just happy to be employed again after two years of uncertainty.

“I’m back to a point in my life where I’m not taking anything for granted,” he said. “I’m happy with every little single thing that’s going on: sitting at this table, wearing this (Tiger-Cats) shirt, being a part of this organization with a lot of history – 15 Grey Cup championships.”

Manziel isn’t certain where he’ll live past training camp, but he said it won’t be in Toronto.