HAMILTON — In the black and gold world he calls home, Jamall Johnson is a player of substance.
In the public domain outside that home, he is a man of mystery.
“Yeah, our Hit Man!? jokes kicker and teammate Justin Medlock, as Johnson passes a clutch of media gathered around the Ticats’ kicker, who has been named special team’s player of the week.
Johnson had nine tackles this week in a giant defensive performance against the Saskatchewan Roughriders. He has not been named a special anything.
But, then, what else is new.
All Johnson does is quietly destroy offensive schemes, chase down running backs and make Buck Pierce into a You-Tube sensation. That last bit happened in the first game of the season when Johnson laid such a devastating hit on the Winnipeg quarterback it played big on the social networks.
As expected, the Tiger-Cats' linebacking corps has been playing great. They're a pleasure to watch, and with the lack of discussion about them here, i fear we may be taking them for granted a little bit.
I don't think it's that people take them for granted (I know I sure as heck don't), but, sadly, most people only come on here to complain about something. With the rare exception of praising players who surprise (ex. Chris Williams), most people just want to tear down the team.
But to keep things positive. The entire front seven of the defense has been great. Hickman and Baggs as the bookends have been awesome. I said it more than once, but Hickman abused Ben Archibald in Week 4. I've loved the play of Albert Smith and Eddie Steele in the middle, and the return of Matt Kirk makes that unit even stronger.
Can't say enough about the Linebackers. For my money, the best trio in the CFL. Johnson could easily have been the MODP in his two years here. Knowlton is doing exactly what he has done since he arrived here. Rey Williams has been everything that he was advertised as. You will find no bigger fan of Otis Floyd than me. I was angry when Floyd was released, and I wish there was a way that the team could have kept him. That said, I'm happy that Williams was signed. Having these three guys around for the foreseeable future means that Hamilton will once again dominate on defense.
I'm even going to throw some love at the secondary. All I heard was how terrible Hamilton's secondary was going to be by some fans on here. Two players in particular have been excellent. They are Bo Smith and Ryan Hinds. Smith is making me eat crow on a weekly basis, and Hinds is doing everything I thought he'd be able to do when I first heard about him.
Last, but not least, I love the mindset that Corey Chamblin has instilled in these players. The defense, which everyone thought would be a weakness, has been the team's biggest strength. I can't wait to see what these guys do on Friday. The Als offense versus Hamilton's defense is going to be a treat to watch.