With five long practice days behind them, the Ottawa REDBLACKS had a shorter on-field session for Day 6 on Friday, but that hour-and-40-minute block was upbeat, with a spotlight on individual drills and special teams work.
Preaching patience: With the absence of pre-season games from the CFL schedule this season, practices are the only place where team staff can evaluate players during training camp. That has led to an expression that has been used by coaches through the first week of on-field sessions. On Friday, it was receivers coach Alex Suber echoing what Head Coach Paul LaPolice and Defensive Coordinator Mike Benevides have said about selecting guy’s to make the opening roster. “It’s wide open for us, we don’t want to be early evaluators,” said Suber, who called Ottawa home throughout the canceled 2020 season. “We’ve got some guys who really want to stretch the field and some other guys that can go up and snatch the ball and play physical.”
We hear you, defence: There is a lot of energy at practice this week. The kind of energy you expect early in camp but with an injection of intensity, you can only get from guys who have been without football for a year-and-a-half. As you might expect, the defensive unit tends to be the most vocal, though QB Dominique Davis was giving right back during stretches on Friday. Listen closely to the sounds of camp and it’s basically a constant comedy routine.
Inside track: Learning a new playbook doesn’t happen instantly and that’s especially true with a number of new faces on the coaching staff, not to mention the Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator. In that sense, Canadian receiver Daniel Petermann has a bit of an advantage coming into camp as the former Winnipeg Blue Bomber is reunited with Paul LaPolice. Coach Suber, as well as LaPolice, have said they are impressed with Petermann’s showing in camp so far. As for the player himself, he’s not taking anything for granted. “It’s been good for me, I’m familiar with the system (but) it feels great to just shake the rust off. I haven’t played real football since 2019.”
Special guys, special teams: While there are a number of new faces in camp, the formidable snapper-holder-kicker trio — Louis-Philippe Bourassa, Richie Leone and Lewis Ward — are back in red and black and picking up where they left off. Along with kicker Jose Maltos and the rest of the Bob Dyce-led special teams unit, the group figures to be a force to be reckoned with once again. “Our group stayed pretty close-knit, talking all the time and counting down the days,” Leone said of his interaction with those teammates during the layoff. “It’s a really good group and we keep each other accountable. We have really high expectations.”
Roster notes: The REDBLACKS activated Canadian offensive lineman and former Carleton Raven, as well as American defensive lineman Frank Beltre, from the suspended list on Thursday. Late Friday, the team added American running back Justin Davis out of USC. He will be allowed to practice on July 23. American running back Akeem Hunt was added to the suspended list.
Training Camp presented by TD.