‘We expect to punish people,’ said CFL veteran Figueroa upon his return to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.


Greg Ellingson of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Joel Figueroa celebrate Ellingson’s touchdown against the BC Lions during the second half of a CFL football game in Vancouver, British Columbia. On Friday August 30, 2013 (Darryl Dyke / Canadian Press)

Joel Figueroa is back full circle.

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.”

“Even in practice It’s 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 in the meeting room after the rehearsal. 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 one of the best blockers in the league in his position. and the work he puts into making it possible It’s a desire and an attitude. And he definitely wants to do it.”

‘We expect to punish people,’ said Figueroa.

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 values ​​their bodies. Is that the focus? Of course, I’d like to think we were physically in the past, but yeah, we always want to be better in that aspect. football is played Physically and 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 we expect to punish people. 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.

“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 the thing about positioning.”

Hamilton to host 2023 Gray Cup game

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

For the second time in three seasons Hamilton will host the Gray Cup, this year scheduled for November 19 at Tim Hortons Field. -25 points

And while winning the championship is always the goal. Figueroa says the idea is nowhere on his current radar.

“We have to take care of the little things and that’s what we focus on,” he said.

“It’s a little different now here (than it was in 2013) because of the staff, but the core of the program is and it feels like when I came into this league . . . working harder. expect big things but at the same time Time is not looking far ahead and just worrying about today. Today is the most important next play next time agent It’s just a culture here in Hamilton and it’s very special.”

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