With a 32-17 win over the Toronto Argonauts in Guelph on Thursday, the Ottawa Redblacks concluded their 2018 training camp. Many had cast aspersions on their Week One bye when the schedule first came out but now it seems like a bountiful blessing. The Redblacks came out of training camp with some key bumps and bruises, namely those to number one pivot Trevor Harris and National Slotback Brad Sinopoli. The extra bye week will help these two cogs in Ottawa’s offensive attack get as close to 100% as possible. Now the Redblacks start 2018 with little ratio flexibility due to other injuries that occurred over training camp.
The issues started with the Week One pre-season injury to Right Tackle Jason Lauzon-Seguin. The Redblacks announced that he will be out for 4-6 weeks with an undisclosed injury. This does not lock him into that time period but does make his presence unlikely for Week One. Given the stringent ratio rules that exist in the CFL, this injury has exposed the razor-thin National depth that the Redblacks currently possess. The trickle-down effect from the Offensive Line throws most other position groups into flux.
Here is a look at the probable National Starters in Week One versus Saskatchewan on June 21st at TD Place.
Remember that the minimum number of National Starters is seven, by our calculations, the Redblacks start 2018 with exactly that amount.
Safety-#6 Antoine Pruneau
Defensive Tackle-#93 Daryl Waud or #94 Michael Klassen
Left Guard-#64 Evan Johnson
Centre-#56 Alex Mateas
Right Guard-#63 Jon Gott
Slotback-#88 Brad Sinopoli
Wide Receiver-#80 Austen Hartley
The main issue is that if there are any more injuries to the Offensive Line the Redblacks will be forced to start either a 2018 draft pick (Korte or Czaja) or an International player along the line. Unfortunately, this means starting International players at other positions will have to be replaced with a less adept National depth player at other positions.
Taking a look at each position group paints the picture in terms of explaining the Redblacks potential woes. Let’s look at them in the order of the effect produced by injuries on the Offensive Line.
International Starters: Rogers, Lofton
National Starters: Johnson, Mateas, Gott
Nolan MacMillan has not taken a single rep yet in practice or either of the Redblacks two pre-season games. As stated above, Jason Lauzon-Seguin is also a questions mark. General Manager Marcel Desjardins stated on Sunday in an article by Tim Baines of the Ottawa Sun that “We’re not necessarily counting on them to be ready for the first game, but we haven’t ruled them out, either,”. If neither are able to go at Right Tackle then International Eric Lofton will get the start.
International Starters: Newsome, Leonard, Wakefield, Uko
National Starters: Waud and/or Klassen
Last year the Redblacks consistently employed two Canadians along the Defensive Line. With the advent of Noel Thorpe’s new pressure defence, Defensive End spots held by Nationals in 2017 are now occupied by International rush ends. At this point, it looks like Michael Klassen and Daryl Waud could both be pencilled in as starters at Defensive Tackle. If both can start then that would actually bring the Canadian total to eight. The Redblacks, like most teams, have historically rotated through their defensive lineman every two plays or so. If that trend continues then you will see National Andrew Marshall see some time at Defensive End as Michael Wakefield and George Uko check into the Defensive Tackle spots.
International Starters: Spencer, Rhymes, Ellingson, Thomas?
National Starters: Sinopoli, Hartley?
There was a high level of competition in camp at the receiver position. Spencer, Ellingson and Sinopoli were already locked into their spots but a great camp from sophomore Dominique Rhymes solidified his position. Noel Thomas also made the squad out of training camp. While there are Nationals in Julian Feoli-Gudino and Marco Dubois to fill should Sinopoli go down as the wide receiver position it is another story entirely. Is Austen Hartley actually Ottawa’s best option at Wide Receiver? Time will tell but given the current roster, it is almost a foregone conclusion that he has to start at that position.
International Starters: Rose, Murray, Johnson, Tindal
National Starters: Pruneau
National Teague Sherman has made a great impact in training camp and is a capable back up to Antione Pruneau. Outside of that the rest of the secondary is all International players from top to bottom.
International Starters: Brown III, Hebert, Purifoy
National Starters: None
The Redblacks do not have any National players at Linebacker listed in the top two of their depth chart. J.P. Bolduc and Dan West are integral pieces of the Redblacks special teams puzzle but lack the reps and experience to do much more than spell off in the linebacking core at this time.
QUARTERBACKS AND RUNNING BACKS:
International Starters: Harris, Powell/Madu
National Starters: None
If Powell and Madu are healthy no National will get a sniff at starting here. Ratio adherence will have to come from a different position group.
Essentially the Redblacks are fine as long as they go through the 2018 season with no significant injuries to their National starters. That, in reality, is a pipe dream. Games in November are won on the backs of a team’s Canadian depth. The Redblacks start 2018 with little ratio flexibility and it remains to be seen if they have the horses in the barn to run the rest of the race.
Main image credit:
Embed from Getty Images