Your 2017 Ottawa Redblacks

With training camp in the books and the 2017 Canadian Football League season on the horizon, general manager Marcel Desjardins, head coach Rick Campbell and the Ottawa Redblacks had the difficult task of paring down the roster to the league-mandated maximum of 46 (not including injuries, plus 10 practise roster spots) over the weekend. 

Here’s the team that will storm the field at TD Place on Friday, June 23rd:

DB – Defensive Back

A.J. Jefferson (photo Scott Grant Photography)

21 Berger, Adam 🇨🇦
20 Bolduc, Jean-Philippe 🇨🇦
46 Carrington, Lloyd
19 Claiborne, Imoan
4 Gavins, Jerrell
24 Jefferson, A.J.
15 Johnson, Keelan
6 Pruneau, Antoine 🇨🇦
9 Rose, Jonathan
32 Taylor, Nicholas
33 West, Dan 🇨🇦

Definitely the biggest question mark coming into the 2017 season. While there are a few returning vets (Gavins, Pruneau) and the addition of former Toronto Argonaut standout Jefferson, the fact is this is an inexperienced group. And while that may be a fairly regular occurrence in the CFL, it nonetheless means dealing with the uncertainty that comes with young players and CFL rookies. That said, D-Block 2017 looks to be a very talented and athletic group, led by coach (and DB guru) Ike Charlton.

DL – Defensive Line

41 Gascon-Nadon, Arnaud 🇨🇦
99 Williams, Connor 🇨🇦
96 Ankrah, Jason
93 Ceresna, Jake
92 Evans, Zack 🇨🇦
49 Lattanzio, Ettore 🇨🇦
90 Marshall, Andrew 🇨🇦
97 Miller, Steven
47 Romick, Nigel 🇨🇦

After defensive backs, the defensive line is probably the next biggest question mark for the Grey Cup champs. The group remains a strong one, with high-end Canadian talent in Gascon-Nadon, Williams and Evans, but the fact remains Ottawa had difficulty getting to the opposing quarterback for most of the 2016 season. It appears the plan is to rotate seven or eight of these big boys with regularity, at least for the first few weeks of the season.

K – Kicker

3 Maher, Brett
39 Medeiros, Zack 🇨🇦

Maher returns to Ottawa following a strong 2016 season in Hamilton and a brief stint on the Cleveland Browns roster. Medeiros has had a strong camp by all accounts and has performed well in preseason games. Dare we say the kicking positions seem (knock on wood) somewhat solidified?

LB – Linebacker

22 Bass, Khalil
10 Bryant, Serderius
42 Omara, Ron 🇨🇦
44 Reed, Taylor

The Redblacks had some challenges at LB in 2016, with a fair amount of turnover, including adding ‘Tank’ Reed at mid-season and having Gavins (admirably) jump into the position from his normal DB spot(s). Bass was one of the most sought-after free agents available this offseason. This group looks strong.

LS – Long Snapper

52 Doll, Tanner 🇨🇦
50 Bourassa, Louis-Philippe 🇨🇦

Doll was solid in 2016, and 2017 draft pick Bourassa looks to be a versatile back-up that can contribute on special teams.

OL – Offensive Line

SirVincent Rogers (photo Scott Grant Photography)

53 Albright, Matthew 🇨🇦
68 Draheim, Tommie
63 Gott, Jon 🇨🇦
64 Johnson, Evan 🇨🇦
58 Lauzon-Séguin, Jason 🇨🇦
66 MacMillan, Nolan 🇨🇦
56 Mateas, Alex 🇨🇦
55 Rogers, SirVincent
59 Silas, Jake

With the return of Jake Silas this week, the Redblacks offensive line is essentially the same strong group from 2016. While J’Michael Deane is gone, 2017 first-round pick Evan Johnson will look to make his way into the rotation. Most importantly, guard SirVincent Rogers looks fully recovered from season-ending ankle injury. 

QB – Quarterback

Trevor Harris (photo Scott Grant Photography)

7 Harris, Trevor
14 Lindley, Ryan
5 Tate, Drew

For the first time in his pro career, Harris will be the undisputed starting QB. And while he has put up excellent numbers the last two seasons with extended time as fill-in starter, being “the guy” is a different kind of pressure. How Harris responds will be a – if not the – major storyline of the Redblacks season.

RB/FB – Running Back/Fullback

William Powell (photo Scott Grant Photography)

25 Gillanders, Brendan 🇨🇦
45 Gosselin, Anthony 🇨🇦
81 Lavoie, Patrick 🇨🇦
23 Madu Jr., Mossis
29 Powell, William

Powell was a force for Ottawa in the back-half of 2015, including a team-best performance in the Grey Cup loss. After missing all of 2016 with an Achilles injury, WiPo is healthy and looked strong in his limited preseason reps. Lavoie is the incumbent FB and should continue to be that 6th/7th receiving option for Harris.

WR – Wide Receiver

Diontae Spencer (photo Scott Grant Photography)

86 Criner, Juron
82 Ellingson, Greg
8 Harty, Jake 🇨🇦
2 Shaw, Kenny
88 Sinopoli, Brad 🇨🇦
85 Spencer, Diontae
87 Stangby, Joshua

The Redblacks got a lot younger at receiver this offseason, and many believe they have a chance to be even better than the 2016 crew. Lofty, considering they are coming off a second straight year where four receivers topped 1,000 yards. Shaw (1,004 yards for Toronto last year) & Spencer (706 yards in just 12 games with the Argos) are the big free agent additions, while Criner put up 446 yards in the final eight games of the year, including playoffs, once Chris Williams was lost for the year. Add these three to what we’ve come to expect from The Buds (Ellingson & Sinopoli), and the 2017 Redblacks receiving corps is setting up to challenge the league’s best. Is FIVE 1,000-yard receivers a possibility?

While there are always question marks, there’s little question the Redblacks have improved depth at most positions. Barring significant injury, a healthy Redblacks squad should contend for first in the East Division.

By the way, here’s the Redblacks practise roster for Week 1:

27 Baltimore, Sherrod (DB)
31 Brown, Kevin (LB)
17 Collins, Danny (QB)
98 Ellis, Avery (DL)
80 Hartley, Austen (WR) 🇨🇦
35 Jackson, Kevin (LB) 🇨🇦
57 Lofton, Eric (OL)
89 Rhymes, Dominique (WR)
69 Schmidt, Ryan (OL)
28 Tindal, Corey (DB)

PR UPDATE (6/22): Preseason standout WR Daje Johnson has been added to the practise roster, replacing OL Ryan Schmidt. Johnson will wear number 13.

It all starts Friday. Can’t wait.

Thanks for reading!

@DefendTheR

All photos courtesy Scott Grant Photography. Follow Scott on Twitter at @CFLPhotoArchive

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The latest Redblacks jersey concepts

With the announcement that adidas will be taking over as rights holder for CFL uniforms starting in 2016, the first question every fan asked was ‘will the jerseys be different?’ The move to adidas from Reebok is a bit of a unique scenario, as adidas is actually the parent company of Reebok. So, the thinking in some circles is that existing uniforms may simply be re-badged with adidas logos, rather than completely refreshed. On the other hand, a simple re-badging seems like a big missed opportunity for the new rights holder looking to make a splash.

At this point we really don’t know which way it’ll go. Likely a few teams will take the opportunity to start fresh, while others may stick pretty close to their current designs. Most believe we have seen the last of the so-called Signature Look 3rd jerseys, at least in their current forms. 

That sound you hear is Bomber fans celebrating.

As for the Redblacks, have to think significant changes will be made. Not that the current uniforms are awful, but there are definite issues. First and foremost, the two-tone notched numbers are difficult for fans and broadcasters alike. From a distance it can be a real challenge to differentiate a six from and eight.

The ones look a bit like sevens, too.

Then there’s the oversized font used on the namebar. Readability isn’t an issue, but the size causes the white namebar to impede on the black shoulders of the away (white) uniforms.  

   

That ain’t pretty.

Also, given how fans have quickly gravitated to red and black plaid at TD Place, one has to think it will be incorporated into the home & away uniforms, not only the alternate.

So those are some of my thoughts on areas for improvement. I don’t dislike the current uniforms – the 2015 Grey Cup run solidified their place in my heart – but they can be better.

Now, let’s see what the artists think.

First is this from CFL artist Nelson Hackewich (who did a great job on all 9 teams – check them out):

   

 

 

Stripes on the shoulders of the home (black) and away (white) uniforms are a welcome change. The suggested use of ‘ROUGEetNOIR’ on the front of the away uniform is also a great (and I think very necessary) improvement. 

Nelson went with a 1940s-era Ottawa Rough Riders jersey for the 3rd/alternate. It’s a very cool look. Love the numbers on the helmet. But I have to think when the Redblacks decide to adopt a throwback jersey for the first time they go with something from the Riders glory days in the 1960s.

Here’s an earlier flat version of the home and away above:

   
 

Next up is Defend the R contributor and fellow jersey nerd Nevill Carney with this updated jersey concept:

  

Single-colour numbering. Check. Classic piping on the shoulders. Check. Use of ‘OTTAWA’ on the front of the jersey. Check. 60s Rough Riders throwback. Check check. Only thing missing is perhaps more plaid. Pretty much a foregone conclusion at this point.

And right on cue, some updates from Nevill:

 

There you have it. Small Redblacks logo on the back is a nice touch, too.

Next up is SportsLogos.net user mbannon92:  

   

This concept was actually done in the summer of 2015 supposing the CFL moved to Nike. Regardless, some great design elements. Here are the creator’s thoughts:

The primary uniforms (first set) feature an R-less logo on the sleeves, with matching chainsaw striping on the pants, and the home set features red pants to honor the team’s name. The RedBlacks’ Pride uniforms (2nd set) expand upon the team’s lumberjack-inspired identity, with a higher emphasis on red and red and black plaid on the helmet, sleeve caps, and pants. The look is sure to be a hit among die-hard fans and hipsters alike.

Really think he/she nailed so much on these sets, including the smaller namebar font, single colour numbers (while maintaining the notched number design), strong use of plaid (though not sure it works as well on the helmet…) and an overall cleaner/simpler look. Both those black jersey/red pant sets are stunning. Great job.

Finally, riderfans.com user Joe747 with his/her take:

   
   
A user on the forum noted the similarity to the Ottawa Renegades 2005 uniforms.

  

Very much so. Also similarities to the Atlanta Falcons. Not that either of those are bad things. The use of plaid on the home and away sets is just right. The classic red down the middle of the helmet is very Rough Riders. A very nice, modern set.

Interesting to note that every concept features some variation of a black helmet. Perhaps it’s the Ottawa tradition. Personally, I like the white helmets. I also might have expected someone to try a red helmet (we are the REDblacks, after all), but not to be. At least not yet.

Before you go, just thought I’d toss in this (somewhat) interesting (to me) screen capture from a video the Redblacks put together highlighting Burris’ MOP season in 2015:

 

Probably not indicative of anything, but I suppose it could be a tease. I do like the classic piping on the arms. Very Russ Jackson-esque.

No official date has been set for the new uniform release by the way, but odds are we will see something early May.

Thanks for reading!

Have a concept? We’d love to see it! Hit us up at @DefendTheR.

REDPLAIDS vs Stamps; Different Jersey, Same Result

By: Santino Filoso

1st

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon and wearing two thirds of their new CFL Signature Look uniforms, the Redblacks welcomed the Calgary Stampeders to TD Place for their only matinée game of the season. Despite battling hard all game the Redblacks ultimately lost, dropping their record to 1-7 on the year.

Pre-Game:

– Continuing to prove that Ottawa is indeed a football city, the Redblacks record their 4th straight sell-out

– The whispers and rumours circulating all week are proven true when the Redblacks come out for warm up wearing their normal black helmets instead of the plaid ones from their plaid Signature Look

– Conspiracy theorists have a field day trying to explain the lack of plaid helmets

But bottom line

1st Quarter:

– The Redblacks strong defensive play carries over from last week as Antoine Prunueau (#6) tips Bo Levi Mitchell’s pass and Jonathon Williams (#75) does his best Odell Williams impression, picking it off and rumbling 35 yards to the house, sending #RNation into a frenzy; 7-0 for the home team

– On Calgary’s next possession Brandon Lang (#91) sacks Mitchell

– After picking up a 1st down and being flagged for holding, Henry Burris’ (#1) pass sails over Wallce Mile’s (#84) head when he stops running for a deep ball

– Prunueau continues to fly around, tripping up Cornish as he tries to bounce a run wide

– Despite being backed up by penalties Mitchell uses his legs to move the sticks

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– Deciding that injuring starting safety Eddie Elder (#5) with a vicious blindside block isn’t enough, Nik “Buffet” Lewis decides to dance and celebrate over the prone Redblack #pureclass

– Facing 3rd and 1 on Ottawa’s 7 yard line, Stamps HC John Hufnagel sends out the short yardage package and back up QB Drew Tate scrambles to the outside, strolling into the end zone and capping off an 11 play 52 yard drive to even the score

– A failed fake reverse + a Chevon Walker (#29) unobjectionable conduct penalty = the Redblacks starting on their own 7 and quickly going two and out

– With the help of Jerrell Gavins (#24) , safety Eric Fraser (#7) breaks up a deep pass, seemingly for the first time this season

2nd Quarter:

– Prunueau breaks up a pass on 2nd and long

– Stamps kicker Rene Paredes breaks his streak of 12 straight field goals, missing a 31 yarder but still tacking on a rouge

– Jon “Dangerbeard” Gott (#63) catches Burris by surprise, snapping the ball before he’s ready

– Brett Maher’s (#3) punt combined with a holding penalty pins the Stamps at their 9 yard line

– Jermain Robinson (#32) nearly picks off Mitchell, but instead gets flagged for illegal contact

– Jasper Simmons (#31) tackles Cornish short of the first down, forcing the Stamps to punt

simmons

– Showing his wheels, Burris scrambles for a 1st down

– Full of informative incorrect tidbits, TSN announcer Duane Ford mentions that the Redblacks haven’t scored a TD in 44 straight offensive possessions and that Kerry Jospeh was the last QB to throw a TD in Ottawa (which is wrong since Thomas DeMarco (#17) did it against the Wheaties earlier this year)

– A promising drive that featured Khalil Paden’s (13) first catch as a Redblack a few strong runs from Walker ends in a punt when Burris is sacked for a 17 yard loss, pushing the Redblacks out of FG range

burris
Trying to hold back the rush? Or his critics?

– The Stampeders get flagged when they illegally block a Redblack into the  player into a line judge

– Gavins gets flagged for illegal contact, bringing the Redblacks total to 6 flags for 52 yards so far

– Pocket collapsing, Burris fumbles but the Redblacks retain possession when J’Michael Dean (#64) hops on it like an offer of seconds of home cooking

– With 30 minutes of play in the books, the football jerseys lead the hockey jerseys 8-7

Half-time:

– The TSN panel expresses surprise that Ottawa hasn’t been blown out yet

3rd Quarter:

– The Redblacks receive the ball to start the half and move the chains a few times thanks to Walker’s tough running, another Paden catch and a QB draw

crop_20669854324

– Redblacks jar the ball loose on the ensuing punt but the Stamps maintain possession

– Crowd noise is a factor as the Stamps get flagged for false start, pushing them back to their 5

crop_20669754334
R-Nation is a force to be reckoned with

– Picking up where he left off last week, Williams nails Mitchell up high long after the ball is out and gifts the Stampeders 15 yards

– Joe West burns by Fraser for a 58 yard catch

– The Stamps drive 91 yards to Ottawa’s 9 yard line but on 3rd and inches Keith “I Like Hittin’ People” Shologan (#74) forces and recovers a fumble

– Trying to take advantage of another defensive gift, Miles and Henry² (Marcus Henry #16) make catches of 22 and 4 yards respectively before Burris gets clobbered as he throws and tosses the ball right at Stamps DB Jamar Walls

– Stampes do what the Redblacks’ don’t and turn the turnover into points with a 32 yard FG

4th Quarter:

– Despite catches by FB John Delahunt (#49) and Miles, the Redblacks stick to their trend of going two and out

– The defense doesn’t even bend as they force the Stamps to go two and out

swarmingd
Swarming and relentless

– Burris connects with Dobson Collins (#80) for a 15 yard gain and passes Danny “Big Mac” McManus for 3rd place on the all time CFL passing list

– Joe West makes Ottawa fans cross their fingers that Elder’s injury isn’t serious as he toys with Fraser and catches a 51 yard bomb

– The Stamps 41 yard FG is wide right and Jamill Smith (#15) denies the rouge by returning the missed kick to his own 4 yard line

– Dubious play calling leads to another Maher punt and the “Ho-bart” chants rain down

– Overcoming a 3rd down, the Stamps eventually punch the ball into the end zone when Sederrik Cunningham runs 20 yards untouched

– With the score at 18-7 and thinking they’re at a Sens game wayyyyy out in Kanata, some uneducated members of R-Nation begin to leave the stadium

– The Redblacks respond to the Stampeders score with an incompletion and a Burris sack to go two and out

bsack

– Proving that lightening can strike twice, Cunningham fields Maher’s short punt and weaves 66 yards to the end zone, *note* Eric Fraser falling down without being touched doesn’t help the coverage any

– DeMarco enters the game and is serenaded with cheers until he also goes 2 and out

– Exhausted after being on the field for most of the game, the defense finally snaps allowing another TD when Hugh Charles gallops 15 yards untouched

– The Redblacks’ receivers prove that they have zero chemistry with either of their two QBs as DeMarco’s passes fall to the ground with absolutely nobody around

– With just over a minute left in the game, Junior Turner comes in low on DeMarco and delivers a shot to his knee, in all likelihood tearing an ACL/MCL, ruining his season and quelling a QB controversy in the Nation’s Capital

demarco

– 3rd stringer Danny O’Brien has a first CFL play to remember as he gets sacked for a 16 yard loss

welcometothepros
Welcome to the pros kid!

Deceiving final score: 32-7 for the best team in the league

Key Stats:

Burris went 12 of 23 for 113 yards with 0 TDs and 1 INT

Walker had 11 carries for 43 yards

Collins made 5 catches for 44 yards

Simmons had 7 tackles

Maher punted 11 times for 479 yards, averaging 43.5 yard per kick

Closing Thoughts:

Another week ends with another frustrating loss. Ottawa fans packed TD Place and brought the noise all game long, but while R-Nation showed up our offence clearly didn’t. Burris had a game to forget, overthrowing his receivers on the rare occasions that he a) had time to plant his feet, and b) had an open man to throw to. Chevon Walker had his moments running the ball but Ottawa’s play calling wasn’t consistent in feeding him the ball. Watching the Redblacks’ inept offensive execution led to an unruly home crowd that repeatedly booed the offence off the field and invoked the struggles of Rough Rider days of yore with “Ho-bart” chants. This was also the second week in a row that the defence generated turnovers that the offence failed to turn into points.

While the offence continues to struggle, the defence was once again stellar and tried to pick up the slack. Guys like Simmons, Pruneau, Williams and Shologan carried the day for as long as possible, even going so far as to score, but it’s unrealistic to expect the defence to hold up being on the field for as long as they were. When you hold a QB like Mitchell to 0 TDs, you should win the game. Losing Eddie Elder to injury hurt, as it pushed Eric Fraser into the game and where was repeatedly victimized on deep throws. In terms of special teams, minus the one short punt that was returned for a touchdown, Maher was solid punting and the kick coverage that was putrid at the start of the season has really tightened up.

This was once again a game that the Redblacks hung around in until late in the 4th quarter, when a tired defence collapsed and allowed the Stamps to put up 21 points in 4 minutes and 5 seconds. The final tally doesn’t accurately reflect how close the score was for most of the game. On that note, it’s frustrating as a fan and must be disheartening for the players to see fans stream out of the stadium when there’s more than 8 minutes left in the game. I know a lot of Redblacks’ fans also go to Sens games and have been traumatized by the shitty traffic out at the Canadian Tire Centre, but there’s simply no excuse to leave a CFL game at Lansdowne Park early. First off it’s the CFL, and as it’s been proven time and time again no lead is safe. Secondly, getting in and out of Lansdowne is much faster and smoother than leaving the CTC, simply because it’s in the heart of the city. If you paid for a ticket stay until the end of the damn game! – end rant

@RedBlackGade

*All images via CFL.ca, the Ottawa Sun and the Ottawaredblacks.com

#RThoughts on the Redblacks new 3rd jersey

On Monday, August 18th, the Ottawa Redblacks revealed their inaugural third jersey. After a decent amount of speculation and a few fun teasers, here’s what we got:

IMG_0915.JPG

Social media was abuzz with reaction and opinion, ranging from love to hate and most points in between. Frankly, reaction was far closer to 50/50 than expected.

With that in mind, here’s Defend the R’s chat/review of the Redblacks ‘Signature Look’ (most photos from ottawaredblacks.com):

HELMET

IMG_0919.PNG

@OTTRoughRiders: I love the plaid helmet. I probably would have kept the R logo on it, however. And probably the black version.

@RedblackGade: Yep exactly, it’s strange to see an Ottawa helmet without the iconic R on it. But otherwise it’s incredible.

JERSEY – SHOULDERS

IMG_0917.JPG

@OTTRoughRiders: Love the plaid on the shoulders. Perfect amount of plaid for the uniform, if they had ended it there.

@RedblackGade: Agreed once again with the plaid on the shoulders, they got that part just right.

JERSEY – FRONT

IMG_0911.JPG

@RedblackGade: I like having the main logo on the front – hockey-style – but it’s looks too cartoonish being white, they should’ve outlined it to make it pop.

@OTTRoughRiders: I pretty much like everything about the jersey but the logo on the front. Standard numbering & they would be awesome. Or maybe if they used the black logo instead of that white version?

@RedblackGade: I like using the logo on the front of the jersey, but it’s really shitty that it’s white. Don’t get that part.

@OTTRoughRiders: I wouldn’t have had the plaid running down the side of the jersey. Shoulders are enough.

(Here’s how it would look in black, by the way:

IMG_0920.JPG

Thanks to @BrodieBrady for putting this together.)

PANTS

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@RedblackGade: I love the ‘Ottawa’ stripe going down the side of the leg too, that’s a really nice touch.

@OTTRoughRiders: Like the black pants – glad it isn’t a fully red set, like the home & away. But don’t think they needed plaid down the side. Again, bit too much.

@OTTRoughRiders: I do like OTTAWA on the pants as well. Just wouldn’t have had the plaid background. Also like the red socks.

@RedblackGade: I like the plaid background there.

OTHER THOUGHTS

@RedblackGade: The gloves are fantastic, really love those.

IMG_0921-0.PNG

@OTTRoughRiders: Gloves are really cool, but what is that logo? They’ve never used it anywhere. I’m not a fan, at this point. May warm up to it.

@RedblackGade: I also find that the actual thing itself looks much better than the “enhanced” and edited images. The red looks better in video/live.

@OTTRoughRiders: For sure. I want to see it in person. Things look different without all the touch ups/filters.

IMG_0923.JPG

@OTTRoughRiders: Would have been cool if they used #RNation on the back of the helmet, like the Argos did with #ArgosLive

IMG_0924.JPG

There you have our thoughts from Monday. No doubt the uniform is fun and interesting, especially the plaid helmet. A number of American news outlets picked up the news, including Bleacher Report and ESPN’s Keith Olbermann. No such thing as bad press, right?

What are your thoughts on the Redblacks Signature Look? What would you do to improve them?

While you think about it, here’s what @Senturion would do:

IMG_0925.JPG

Huge improvement.

UPDATE: Here’s a concept I came up with (please excuse the less-than-stellar Photoshop work):

IMG_0926.JPG

If we have to have a logo on the front, I think this works quite a bit better. Appreciate any feedback.

Thanks for reading and Go Redblacks!

@OTTRoughRiders