This off-season has been super busy for the Ottawa Redblacks thus far, and the biggest transaction made by the team’s general manager Marcel Desjardins was the team’s new head coach Paul LaPolice.
LaPolice, as everyone knows brought in a group of coaches for the coaching staff, although the coaching staff was brought in, he was also able to bring in a smaller group of players. Of that group of players, were mostly players he’s already coached like Kevin Anderson (Former Winnipeg QB) and Timothy Flanders (Former Winnipeg RB). The moves he’s made haven’t been too big in the news because they weren’t a part of the famous CFL free agency, but they are two moves that could make an impact and already have made an impact on the roster.
The Redblacks first pre-season game may be over 100 days away, but looking in on Kevin Anderson, it looks like he’ll be on the team in 2020. Just weeks following his signing, his spot on the team was made open by releasing both Jonathon Jennings and William Arndt and with the time he’s already spent with LaPolice in Winnipeg, it shows comfort within both the player and coach and he could have a decent future in Ottawa sitting at just 25 years old.
As for Timothy Flanders, he has a lot of film behind his name from his time at Sam Houston State University, his NFL training camps and of course his stints here in the CFL, but he still has a little bit to prove on what he’s able to do in red and black. He may be in need of proving but when he first heard the news of the new contract he explains, “I really liked it! I just want an opportunity to play again, I feel like I waited my for my turn everywhere I’ve gone, but here in the CFL the ratio has always been a factor of course in Winnipeg with Andrew (Harris, a Canadian running back). Before it was official, LaPo (Paul LaPolice) reached out to me if I’d be willing to sign and it all worked out so I’m excited to be on the team and ready to get to work.”
Following his quote there, Flanders says “I’ve heard it’s a great city (Ottawa), I’ve been there on the road a couple of times and I’ve seen the city a little bit, but I’ve only really seen the Stadium area from the bus window so I’m excited to see the city of course, but I’m more focused on winning. I want to win a championship, and I want to win a Grey Cup, and this is the best place to do it with how great the fans are and I remember from my road trips to Ottawa just how the fans are always there, so I want to win a Grey Cup here.”
The road trips that Timothy Flanders has been on to Ottawa has been with the new coach here in Ottawa, Paul LaPolice when they were together in Winnipeg and to describe his time with LaPolice, he explains, “It’s going to be fun (re-uniting with coach LaPolice), I got the chance to talk to him when I played with Calgary this past year so I’m excited. It will be different than my other times with him because he’s the head coach but he should be calling plays, but I’m excited and hopefully I can get a hold of the plays a little early to see what’s up.”
All of the hype in Ottawa is about the team’s newest head coach, but just last week the team was introducing the city and the fans to their newest starting quarterback in Nick Arbuckle. Along with Flanders’ time with LaPolice in Winnipeg, he also played a couple of games in the same backfield as Nick Arbuckle just this past CFL season and Timothy goes on to say, “I think it’ll be a lot of fun to play with him again! When I first got to Calgary, he (Arbuckle) was one of the guys who helped me adjust to the team’s play book and stuff. Obviously Bo (Levi Mitchell) helped out a lot, but I probably spent more time with Nick (Arbuckle) and he was a big help. He is a great quarterback (Nick Arbuckle) and he made the most out of his opportunities which is why he is going to be a big guy in Ottawa to build a team around. I’m really excited for him and from what it looks like he’s going to have a great opportunity with me in Ottawa.”
Ahead of the days he spent in the CFL where he played with Arbuckle and a few other greats at the quarterback position, Timothy Flanders got the chance at a few NFL training camps with both the New Orleans Saints and Cleveland Browns, and from the time down south, he has some interesting stories, starting off with playing by the side of Drew Brees with the Saints. “Man I was excited (to play with Brees), I was a Saints fan growing up, so that whole opportunity worked out, because I knew the player kind of before I played with him.” Flanders also says, “He (Drew Brees) is a heck of a leader and when you go around, there’s nothing negative ever out of Drew Brees, and one thing I always thought stood out for him was whenever we did a drill at practice, when he threw the ball, he always set his feet and go through his progression no matter what was going on.”
From the quote above, he Flanders has said how good of a leader Brees is for the NFL, and the players he is with, so he went on to tell a neat story of his time with him, “During that time at camp, I was fortunate to hear about the birth of my son, and my roommate Logan Kilgore who was a part of the quarterbacks there told Drew about that and Drew later came up to me and was like ‘congrats’ and welcomed me to fatherhood and he was just excited for me so I thought that was an awesome bit from my time there.”
The biggest NFL stint looks like it was with the Saints for Timothy Flanders, although, just a year after that, he was brought into the Cleveland Browns organization where he played 4 pre-season games. In the time in Cleveland, he talks about an interaction he had with future NFL hall of fame offensive lineman Joe Thomas, “When I first got there (Cleveland), I went to the first team meeting and there were only a few spots left to sit and I wanted to get a good spot. There ended up being a spot right next to Joe (Thomas), and when I first sat next to him he introduced himself saying ‘Hey, I’m Joe, who are you?’ and I went on to telling him my name (Timothy Flanders), and being the joker he is he said ‘oh hey Ned’ (Ned Flanders from the Simpsons), so I said no it’s Timothy, but he refused to call me that so we went on to laugh about that”
As you look into his career behind him, Timothy Flanders has a lot of great stories from the experience he has been granted throughout his career but standing at 28 years old, he has a lot of time left on his career clock and with the contract here in Ottawa, there is a good time waiting for him. The Ottawa Redblacks do have both John Crockett and Brendan Gillanders back to the team, but with Flanders is Akeem Hunt, and Jarvion Franklin, therefore when you take a look in on the running back position, there is a lot of talent and Redblacks running backs coach Charlie Eger is in for a show this season. As mentioned in the interview with Flanders, he is pretty excited to be in Ottawa, and so should you Redblacks fans. Flanders is here to win a Grey Cup.