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Veteran attacking lineman Joel Figueroa joins the Hamilton Tiger-Cats – Winnipeg Free Press

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Hamilton – Joel Figueroa is back in full swing

The ingenious offensive lineman returns to manage the Hamilton team. Tiger-Cats for the second time The 33-year-old American began his CFL career with the franchise in 2013 and returned to southern Ontario when he signed a two-year contract with the club as a free agent after four solid seasons with the BC Lions.

“It’s just that the culture of everything is so intense. It’s what I remember,” said the 6-foot-6, 320-pound offensive tackle. “There’s just something about being here. about being in Hamilton The excitement that the fans give

Hamilton Tiger-Cats Joel Figueroa (right) and Luke Tasker (center) celebrate a touchdown in front of Toronto Argonauts’ Alex Suber during the first half of the CFL in Toronto on Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014. Figueroa is coming full circle. The prolific offensive lineman returns to the Tiger-Cats for the second time. Canadian News Agency / Darren Calabrese

“Even in practice It was surreal.”

Figueroa started in 18 regular season games and the ’22 West Division Finals with BC. The former Miami Hurricane appeared in 108 career CFL games in nine seasons with Hamilton (2013-15), Edmonton (2016-17) and the Lions ( 2018-19, 21-22).

Three-time Figueroa was nominated BC for the CFL’s Outstanding Lineman Award.

Although it’s been nine years since Figueroa last played in Hamilton, there was at least one familiar face at training camp, running back James Butler, who ran for 1,060 yards last year against British Columbia. Has also signed a two-year contract with the Ticats in free agency.

“It’s clear that James is physically gifted. But what you can’t teach is what makes him a great player,” said Figueroa. willingness to learn Always being in the conference room after rehearsals. always exercise and trying to absorb more information Whether it’s from the offensive line and a meeting with us or a meeting with the coach.

“He is a substitute in every way. He is one of the best blockers in the league in his position. and the work he put in to make it possible It’s a desire and an attitude. And he definitely wants to do it.”

Figueroa’s outgoing personality is enhanced when he’s on the field. from his demeanor He played the game with enthusiasm, physicality and intensity.

“That’s just the way he plays,” said Orlando Stenauer, head coach/president of football operations at Hamilton. “We just want him to bring what he brings.

“I think everyone is willing to work out. That’s the focus? Definitely. I’d like to think we’ve been physically before, but yeah, we always want to be better in that area. Football is played with the body. So if you don’t play like that, it makes it difficult.

Figueroa said his intention was to add to what he believed to be Hamilton’s existing offensive line.

“I’m here to bring what I can help. And physicality is one of the things that I bring,” he said. “It will certainly be the focus we have in our attack.

“We expect a hammer, not a nail, and expect people to be punished. That is what we want to do.”

Offensive linesmen tend to prefer blocking runs over passes. Because the ground game gives them the opportunity to show their intentions to defensive players, Figueroa says that idea can also be applied in the air.

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“We (the linesman) understand that this game is different. It’s more of a passing league,” he said, “but at the same time that doesn’t mean you have to be passive.

“You can still have the body . . . that’s what the position is all about.”

Figueroa will be counted on to protect Ticats’ new defender Bo Levi Mitchell, another aspect of the game he takes very seriously.

“Protecting him is our job,” said Figueroa. “We understand that’s what we have to do. And that is what we expect to do.”