The Ottawa RedBlacks would love nothing more than to close out the regular season with a victory, but not at the expense of playoff success.
As a result, Ottawa will have 10 new starters in its lineup on Friday night when the RedBlacks play host to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at TD Place, the regular-season finale for both teams.
After clinching first place in the East last weekend with a 23-10 victory over the Bombers (10-7-0) to earn a bye to the Eastern final, the RedBlacks (8-8-1) are taking advantage of a game that, by all accounts, is meaningless.
Following last week’s game, Ottawa had 31 players in the training room and as such the RedBlacks want to give their starters as much rest as possible before the Nov. 20 Eastern final. Should Ottawa lose it would mark the first time a team wins the East Division with a losing record.
“We just want to make sure we’re smart,” said RedBlacks head coach Rick Campbell. “This is a big game for us, but the money is on Nov. 20. That’s the big game for us and we want to make sure we’re as healthy as possible for that game.”
While the rest will clearly be beneficial for a number of players, there’s a risk of building up rust when giving three weeks off to some including quarterbacks Henry Burris and Trevor Harris.
“We talked to them about it,” Campbell said. “I had conversations with both those guys and we felt this was the right move for right now.”
With Burris and Harris on the sidelines Brock Jensen will get his first start in the CFL.
Jensen was thrown into action earlier this season after Harris was injured July 22 against the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Jensen was 20-for-29 for 271 yards and two touchdowns in a disappointing 30-29 loss.
“I’m ready, I’ve had a lot of reps behind the quarterbacks,” said the 26-year-old Jensen. “I feel very confident in what I’m doing and I’m very excited to play with the guys on Friday.”
A key addition to the lineup will be defensive tackle Cleyon Laing who the RedBlacks officially signed Thursday morning.
Laing, an Edmonton native, spent most of the 2016 season with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins but was waived on Monday. Before joining the Dolphins he played for the Toronto Argonauts where he posted eight sacks in 16 games with 40 tackles and two forced fumbles.
Laing had a number of teams interested, but felt Ottawa had plenty to offer.
“I’m Canadian, it’s a dream to win a Grey Cup,” Laing said. “To go to an organization like this with the players we have I just felt it was the path I needed to choose.”
In addition, Laing spoke of the quality at quarterback, the depth on defence and what he saw as his best opportunity for success by signing with the RedBlacks.
Laing knows there will be some adjustments, but doesn’t anticipate any real difficulty adjusting to the CFL game again.Report Typo/Error