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Lions receivers ensuring offensive hot streak continues despite battling injuries

Keon Hatcher recorded a career high in receiving yards against the Calgary Stampeders last Saturday
Halfway through the season and the B.C. Lions receiving corps are hitting their stride. B.C. Lions’ Keon Hatcher, left, and Justin McInnis celebrate hatcher’s touchdown against the Calgary Stampeders during the first half of a CFL football game, in Vancouver, on Saturday, August 12, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Halfway through the season and the B.C. Lions receiving corps is hitting its stride.

Keon Hatcher recorded a career high in receiving yards against the Calgary Stampeders last Saturday, while Jevon Cottoy is adamant he’s about to bust out.

Hatcher recorded 170 receiving yards against Calgary, solidifying discussion of his place as an elite receiver in the CFL.

The Tulsa, Okla., native — who wore sunglasses and a diamond-studded necklace to his post-game press conference — is humble off the field.

“We love to see each other eat, we love to see each other ball. One success is just like another’s success,” said Hatcher about his teammates. “Making those plays and seeing those guys succeed out there is just awesome.”

He attributed part of his success against Calgary to family watching.

“You always got to put on for mom, that was a bit of an early birthday gift (for her),” he said, adding that his mom and aunt were in attendance for the game against the Stampeders.

Head coach Rick Campbell said his depth of receivers is “a good problem to have” but added his team is working on not focusing on one player to target.

Quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. has previously spoken about his “brothers” in the receivers group and that he hosted them in his home in Tacoma, Wash., during the off-season for a training camp of sorts.

Adams, and his receivers, have spoken about the importance of the off-season workout as it gave them time to bond on and off the field together.

“(Vernon Adams) is my guy,” said Hatcher. “We had an opportunity to get some work in the off-season together with him being in Tacoma, you know just right down the street and me being in Vancouver.”

Hatcher, Taquan Mizzell, Lucky Whitehead and Alexander Hollins all finished with a touchdown apiece against the Stampeders.

The receiving group has suffered from not all being fit and healthy at the same time, with Hatcher, Whitehead and others being out at various times.

Hatcher referenced the injury issue in a post-game press conference against Calgary, talking about the “friendly competition” all the receivers have when it comes to statistics.

But one receiver who has not had as productive a season is Whitehead.

One of the top Lions receivers last season, Whitehead has been hampered by a range of injuries this season.

“I think he falls into the category of our receivers this year who haven’t hit their groove this year,” said Campbell. “I talked to him this morning and I think he’s feeling better and better and we’re going to keep on working on getting him touches.”

Whitehead had 1,011 receiving yards last year, pairing up well with ex-Lions quarterback Nathan Rourke.

Rourke is now with the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars.

But for Hatcher, and the rest of the wide receivers, the message is simple.

“It’s time to go. It’s time to build. It’s time to finish the rest of the season out.”

Nick Wells, The Canadian Press