HAMILTON — Bralon Addison won't have the element of surprise working for him Sunday when the Hamilton Tiger-Cats face the Ottawa Redblacks in the CFL's East Division final.
The five-foot-nine, 197-pound receiver had five catches for 124 yards in Hamilton's 44-8 East Division semifinal win last weekend against the B.C. Lions. It was Addison's first career CFL playoff game and just his fifth contest this season with the Ticats.
But Addison helped provide a timely lift for a Ticats receiving corps that's minus Shamawd Chambers, Chris Williams, Terrence Toliver, Brandon Banks and Jalen Saunders due to injury.
"He did great, man," said Hamilton quarterback Jeremiah Masoli. "A lot of respect for that guy because he wasn't necessarily around the team the whole year from the jump.
"He prepared himself like a pro and it showed. He's a hell of a player. He's earned a lot of trust from a lot of the guys on our side of the ball just for the things he's doing. He's just a smart football player and we're lucky to have him."
Heady praise, indeed, from the East Division's outstanding player nominee for a player who began the season with the Toronto Argonauts and didn't join the Ticats until Sept. 1.
"It's definitely been a long road from being in Toronto, then coming here and just trying to learn and having to step up fast," said Addison. "But I'm so excited to be able to help this team compete for a championship.
"You've got to give credit to the older guys, veteran guys like Luke (Tasker), Speedy (Banks), Jalen, Terrence, they're always there and vocal. I think I'm a pretty intelligent guy, I pick up things fast but those guys really helped me come a long way so fast."
With so many veteran receivers out of the lineup, it's easy for a defence to concentrate solely on Tasker, and with good reason. The six-year veteran had 78 catches for 1,104 yards and finished tied with Banks and Edmonton's D'haquille Williams for most TD catches (11) in the CFL.
On Sunday against B.C., Tasker had three catches for 70 yards but two were for touchdowns.
"It just helps me that he's playing good," Tasker said. "He asks the right kind of questions and it's just easy to trust him.
"You assume he's going to do the right thing, that happened pretty quickly."
Addison wasted no time Sunday coming up big. With Hamilton facing second-and-12 on its opening possession, Masoli hit Addison with a 38-yard reception that helped set the tone for the Ticats, who opened with three straight touchdown drives to take control of the contest.
A high-school quarterback, Addison understands the importance of a passer and receiver getting comfortable with each other.
"Any time a receiver can give a quarterback that confidence, it allows the quarterback to play free," he said. "A guy like Masoli when he gets comfortable, you can see the things he does.
"I just want to get into the film room and do my part, my job and my assignment and make plays. You just keep studying, keep trying to find the small things. I think that's what you have to focus on especially at this time of the year. "
Addison, 25, of Missouri City, Texas, played collegiately at Oregon. He had 63 catches for 804 yards and two TDs — with two rushing scores and another on a punt return — in 2015 but was bypassed in the 2016 NFL draft.
Addison joined the Denver Broncos shortly afterward, but was released Aug. 30, 2016. He later signed with the Chicago Bears and played two games before being let go May 1, 2017.
In four regular-season games with Hamilton, Addison had eight catches for 113 yards and a TD.
Despite Addison's stellar performance Sunday, Hamilton head coach June Jones won't be tailoring the Ticats' offence to utilize the receiver more against Ottawa.
"Not really, just run our stuff and execute," Jones said. "We always tweak a little bit but it's not going to be anything that anybody will say, 'Oh wow, they just put that in.'"
Hamilton is in the East final for the first time since 2015 when former Ticat Greg Ellingson's 93-yard TD catch rallied Ottawa to a thrilling 35-28 home victory. This year, the Redblacks swept the season series 3-0.
"I think it's hard to beat a team four times (in one year)," Addison said. "If we can correct the small mistakes and correct the things we need to correct, I think we can give ourselves a chance to win.
"That (win over B.C.) was a great starter, it was good for us to get that playoff feeling. I think getting that first game, we can go into Ottawa with a full head of steam."
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press