The CFL’s return to play will be missing a few familiar faces.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats will visit the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Thursday night to kick off the ’21 season. It will mark the league’s return after teams didn’t play in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Teams will play a 14-game schedule instead of the traditional 18. And given the layoff and teams not having played any exhibition contests this year, injuries will certainly be a factor throughout the campaign.
The Bombers, who defeated Hamilton 33-12 to win the ’19 Grey Cup, will be without stalwart running back Andrew Harris. The Winnipeg native was a pivotal figure in the club’s first CFL championship since 1990, rushing for 134 yards and scoring two TDs to become the first player to be named the game’s outstanding player and top Canadian.
But after missing much of training camp due to injury, the 34-year-old Harris will miss the 2021 season opener. Joining him on the sidelines will be receiver Darvin Adams (47 catches, 549 yards, five TDs in 2019) and linebacker Kyrie Wilson (63 tackles, three sacks).
Hamilton will come in short-handed also. Defensive back Tunde Adeleke (hamstring), tight end Jake Burt (unspecified), offensive lineman Chris Van Zeyl (thumb) and defensive lineman Ted Laurent (knee) on the one-game injured list while receivers DeVier Posey (calf) and Bralon Addison (knee) were placed on the six-game list.
Van Zeyl was the CFL’s top lineman in 2019 while Laurent is a two-time CFL all-star. And in 2019, Addison (95 catches, 1,236 yards, seven TDs) was a nice complement to CFL MVP Brandon Banks (112 receptions, 1,550 yards, 13 TDs).