Yesterday the Ottawa Redblacks took practice on the road, heading across the Ottawa River, into Gatineau and over to Stade Mont-Bleu. The third annual trip to Mont Bleu is a nice bit of marketing on OSEG’s behalf, allowing the significant French portion of R-Nation to get up close and personal with the team.
Despite the fall weather (cold temperatures and rain), over 150 people came out to watch the Redblacks get ready for Monday night’s pre-season tilt against Winnipeg.
Here’s a few things that stood out:
– OL Nolan MacMillan’s wrist injury has forced the Redblacks to shuffle their offensive line. Before getting hurt, MacMillan was getting the majority of starting RT reps. Currently, American Jake Silas holds that spot.
– Another offensive line change is that it seems like Matt Albright is ahead of Alex Mataes on the depth chart. Ottawa’s starting offensive throughout practice was SirVincent Rogers at LT, J’Micheal Deane at LG, Jon Gott at C, Alright at RG and Silas at RT.
– On the other side of the ball, Ottawa continues to juggle bodies along their defensive line. Yesterday’s starting unit consisted of Mike Moore (at end), Zack Evans and Moton Hopkins at tackle and Arnaud Gascon-Nadon (end).
– Speaking of the defensive line, Aston Whiteside is progressing. Last year’s breakout star is coming off a serious knee injury but is finally taking part in the contact portion of practice, albeit with the 3rd stringers.
– Canadian Jake Harty seems to be slightly ahead of American Khalil Paden for the 5th starting WR spot. Harty took the majority of his reps with the starting offensive unit, whereas Paden ran mostly with the 2nd stringers. One thing to note is that as this battle is so close, Harty being slotted ahead of Paden might simply be a result of Ottawa juggling the Canadian ratio in response to MacMillan’s injury.
– Ottawa’s National depth at receiver is impressive with Scott MacDonell, Alex Pierzchalski and Philip Enchill behind Brad Sinopoli and Harty on the depth chart. That said, it’s worth wondering if all will make the final roster. Pierzchalski took his reps with Ottawa’s second stringers while MacDonell and Enchill ran with the third unit.
– RB Brendan Gillanders tweaked his knee earlier this week but the injury doesn’t appear to be too serious as he was out at practice in street clothes, walking without crutches.
– DB Dior Mathis continues to rotate in with Jamill Smith and Chris Williams on punt return duty.
– The battle for 3rd string QB spot rages on. Brock Jensen didn’t get a ton of reps but he made the most of his opportunities, stretching the field with a few long completions and showcasing pinpoint accuracy on intermediate throws. Danny O’Brien later responded with a sharp touchdown pass of his own to Chris Williams in the back corner of the end zone.
– D-Block had a strong practice, with Nicholas Taylor making an incredible one handed end zone interception off a Henry Burris pass and Imoan Claiborne nearly snagging an athletic pick of his own.
– In related news, not sure if he’s banged up or was simply getting a rest day, but John Boyett was in Jermaine Robinson’s spot with the starting secondary unit.
– Obviously William Powell is firmly entrenched as Ottawa’s starting RB but with the speed that Travon Van continues to flash, he’s going to earn his touches.
– Not player related but still worth mentioning. Former Ottawa Renegade Mike Sutherland is fantastic in his role with OSEG. His ability to work a crowd and effortlessly switch between English and French is an asset that Redblacks are smart to take advantage of.