Breaux back in familiar territory with Hamilton
CALGARY — Hamilton Tiger-Cats linebacker Simoni Lawrence says he threatened to cry for eight straight days if Delvin Breaux didn't choose Steeltown for his return to the CFL.
Lawrence was joking, but Breaux counters his teammate should have known that, despite interest from other clubs in the league, the cornerback was coming back to the Ticats.
"In my eyes, there was only one. In my heart, there was only one," Breaux said Wednesday following his second practice with Hamilton.
The 28-year-old's last CFL game was the 2014 Grey Cup in Vancouver, where the Calgary Stampeders narrowly beat Hamilton 20-16 for the title.
A Ticat in both 2013 and 2014, Breaux was a league all-star the second season with 33 defensive tackles, an interception for a touchdown and three forced fumbles.
He had an interception in the East Division final and the Grey Cup.
The Ticats released him so he could sign with his hometown New Orleans Saints the following season. Breaux's NFL debut season was stellar with 45 tackles and three forced fumbles in 2015.
But a run of injuries, including twice breaking his fibula, sidelined him for most of the next two seasons. The Saints chose not to retain his services this year.
"After that 2014 Grey Cup, I was like 'I don't want to leave,' but it was my dream to play in the NFL, so I got my dream," Breaux said. "The NFL experience was great. It was eye-opening for me.
"This is home for me. This is where everything took off for me playing with Hamilton in '13 and '14 and becoming a CFL all-star."
The immediate question with Breaux is whether the six-foot-one, 210-pound back is ready to step in and play Friday night in Edmonton against the Eskimos.
Both he and Tiger-Cats head coach June Jones were noncommittal Wednesday, although Jones indicated a decision would be made soon.
"We're going to make that decision after we watch the film today," Jones said. "He looks like he can play to me.
"I think he's still not quite obviously in football shape, but he took a lot of snaps and he runs well still. I think it's a great addition to our team."
The Tiger-Cats are coming off a 28-14 loss in last week's season-opener in Calgary.
Instead of returning to Hamilton, the Ticats remained in Alberta and practised in Calgary for three days before heading north to the provincial capital.
Breaux's football career has been one of twists and turns. He broke three vertebrae in his upper back while making a special teams tackle in high school and wasn't able to play for LSU, who gave him a scholarship.
He spent some time in both the Gridiron Developmental Football League and the Arena Football League in 2012 before signing with Hamilton.
His second fibula break happened during Saints training camp in 2017. Two orthopedic surgeons were released by the team after coach Sean Payton said the injury was initially misdiagnosed as a contusion.
"I've been through worse," Breaux said. "It was a bone, get it fixed, get all the way healthy and get back out there and play."
Lawrence is among half a dozen Ticats who were Breaux's teammates in 2013 and 2014.
"He's a baller," Lawrence said. "He does everything very well. His man-to-man game is impeccable. It's going to help our team out tremendously."
Familiar faces were a factor in Breaux's return to the Tiger-Cats. He and Lawrence kept in touch during his NFL stint.
"I called him two or three weeks ago and said 'what do I got to do to be on the defence? What do I got to do?"' Breaux said. "He said 'man, let's go.'
"And that was it."