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With quarterback Zach Collaros back, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats have confidence as they prepare to meet the Calgary Stampeders. (MARK BLINCH/REUTERS)
With quarterback Zach Collaros back, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats have confidence as they prepare to meet the Calgary Stampeders. (MARK BLINCH/REUTERS)

Calgary Stampeders and Hamilton Tiger-Cats have plenty of history Add to ...

Taylor Reed has waited patiently to face his former Hamilton Tiger-Cats teammates.

The six-foot, 241-pound linebacker spent two seasons in Hamilton before signing with Calgary Stampeders as a free agent this off-season. The Stampeders (6-1-1) play host to the Ticats (4-4) on Sunday night at McMahon Stadium.

And Reed said he’s had the date circled on his calendar.

“For sure,” Reed said on Calgary’s website. “I talk to [Hamilton linebacker] Simoni Lawrence … and he always told me, ‘Wait until Zach gets back, wait until Zach gets back.’ As you’ve seen, their offence put up 53 points [in 53-7 win last week over Saskatchewan] so defensively we’ve got our work cut out for us. They’re a good team and we’ve got to go in there and make plays versus a tough opponent.”

Collaros threw for 381 yards and five touchdowns against Saskatchewan. It was just his second game back after suffering a season-ending knee injury last September versus Edmonton.

Hamilton was cruising at 8-3 prior to Collaros’s injury but finished 2-7 without its offensive leader. The Ticats are 1-1 since Collaros’s return but the former Cincinnati star has thrown for 712 yards and seven TDs in his two starts.

“Calgary is always a good challenge,” Collaros told reporters in Hamilton on Thursday. “They’re kind of, since I’ve been in the league, the standard of what you want your organization to be like in this league.

“They play well together, they expect to win and that’s why I think they get the results that they do.”

The game will feature two of the CFL’s top quarterbacks in Collaros and Calgary’s Bo Levi Mitchell, who’s second to Edmonton’s Mike Reilly in passing (2,534 yards) and tied with Reilly in TD strikes (14 each). But Collaros isn’t concerning himself with being compared to his Stampeders counterpart.

“Bo and I don’t play against each other,” Collaros said. “He’s a great quarterback and has been now the last three or four years in this league.

“I can’t concern myself with what he’s doing out there. I have to concern myself with what the defence is doing. Once I start thinking about those other things I don’t control, that’s when you don’t play well.”

Reed has settled nicely with his new team, having registered 31 tackles and two sacks. Another former Ticat now in Calgary is veteran receiver Bakari Grant, who spent five seasons in Hamilton before coming to Alberta as a free agent.

“This game I didn’t really have circled,” Grant said. “It’s kind of late in the season for me to have circled it.

“I look forward to it but it’s the next week on our schedule.”

But Grant is certainly looking forward to locking horns with Lawrence, the Ticats’ outspoken and always colourful linebacker.

“I think it’s going to be fun. I mean, playing with a lot of those guys for three-to-five years, being able to go against them not in practice and in real time, it will be fun.

“Simoni talks a lot so I’m looking forward to getting in there and having a little contact with him.”

A bigger concern for Calgary head coach Dave Dickenson is his offence trying to match up against Hamilton’s defence, especially its rugged defensive line.

“They possess as much power as anybody,” Dickenson said. “[Defensive end John] Chick is playing really well.

“He’s got speed too but he’s powerful. They’ve made some changes here and there but they always have that same good system. They seem to take a little time to gel but they’re rolling right now so it’s a big challenge for us.”

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