Throughout this long CFL off-season there have been a number of different themes that can be found in the Ottawa Redblacks’ decisions and transactions. One theme has been the will to improve following a 3-15 season in 2019 but more specifically to improve on the defensive side of the ball. In the 3-15 season in 2019, the last time the Redblacks and the rest of the CFL played Ottawa had the most points against with 564, gave up the most yards of offence with 7,477 yards and allowed opposing offences to be on offence the most having played on defence for 1,089 snaps, the most in the CFL.
Since being last in most defensive categories the Ottawa Redblacks’ front office led by general manager Marcel Desjardins have been busy building a defence similar to the one they had in 2016 so they can have another Grey Cup parade on Bank street. They began the off-season bringing in defensive coordinator Mike Benevides who has plenty of experience and is loved by many in the CFL. Then Benevides, head coach Paul LaPolice and general manager Marcel Desjardins started to re-sign and sign players on both sides of the ball, for the most part on defence. Re-signing key contributors of the 2019 defence like Avery Williams, Avery Ellis, Jerod Fernandez, Randall Evans, Sherrod Baltimore, Gump Hayes, Danny Mason, Corey Tindal, and Brandin Dandridge made a lot of sense and keeps the familiarity within the defensive side of the ball but the real improvements were found in the free agent signings, having brought in CFL veterans Cleyon Laing, Davon Coleman, Micah Awe, Don Unamba, Abdul Kanneh, Ese Mrabure, and Dwayne Norman while also bringing in some other free agents with NFL experience and high potential in Stefan Charles, Shamarko Thomas, Stansly Maponga, David Jones and D’Juan Hines. The defence has several great athletes going into the 2021 CFL season which is planned to start August 5th however the roster isn’t fully complete.
Just on Friday, a month ahead of the expected CFL training camp the Ottawa Redblacks signed defensive end Praise Martin-Oguike. Martin-Oguike is a Nigerian born, New Jersey raised athlete that went to Temple University. As a part of the Temple Owls he was coached by Matt Rhule and Phil Snow who are now on the Carolina Panthers staff in the NFL as head coach and defensive coordinator. He also played alongside Redblacks teammates Avery Williams, Avery Ellis and Cortrelle Simpson as well as NFL pass rusher Haason Reddick who was drafted 13th overall by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2017 NFL Draft and just had his career year with 10 quarterback sacks.
The opportunity for Praise Martin-Oguike with the Ottawa Redblacks will be his 5th opportunity to play professional football. Since going undrafted in the 2017 NFL Draft he has been with the Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals of the NFL, the Seattle Dragons in the XFL and The Spring League’s Blues. At 6 foot, 258 pounds he made 9 tackles and one quarterback hit in 5 XFL games, although with 121 tackles, 19 sacks, 29 tackles for loss, 11 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries and one interception over his 40 games at Temple, Martin-Oguike has a lot of potential in Ottawa on the defensive line and will be interesting to see where he falls on the depth chart come training camp alongside the other free agent signees.