On Saturday the Ottawa Redblacks will return to the football field after a long wait. The team will be back in action on the west coast kicking off their 2021 CFL season against the Edmonton Elks and coming off of a long off-season full of improvements there will be a lot for Ottawa Redblacks fans to keep eyes on. Among the things to watch out for and one of the team’s largest improvements comes on the defensive side of the ball and is the improved and decorated secondary.
In the 2019 CFL season the Ottawa Redblacks’ defence was in dead last in most categories. It was an all around bad year for the franchise. From coaching decisions here and there to holding calls, the Redblacks didn’t see much success in any category but after bringing in an entirely new coaching staff expect for Bob Dyce on special teams and some big names around the league on the defensive side of the ball in players like Cleyon Laing, Davon Coleman, Abdul Kanneh and Don Unamba it looks as if the Redblacks have not only made their defence a priority of theirs but a large asset to them, now having one of the league’s best defences.
The additions from the long off-season will be coached by long time CFL coach and former TSN analyst Mike Benevides and will be added along side returning Ottawa Redblacks stars Antoine Pruneau, Sherrod Baltimore, Avery Williams, Avery Ellis, Randall Evans and more. As many know, defence wins championships and someone that is excited to be back in Ottawa and a part of a defence that has that exact potential to win a championship is Abdul Kanneh. When asked about being a part of the secondary by JZ Media’s Jordan Zlomislic Kanneh said, “We have a great bond. I see it getting nothing but better and I feel like this defensive secondary will be something special this year.”
Over the off-season as well, Kanneh spent time with Sherrod Baltimore and Antoine Pruneau. Training together and preparing for the 2021 CFL season. Touching on the importance of the bond he and the defence has off of the football field he mentioned, “When you’re playing in the secondary its more of a brotherhood. You got to rely on these guys and know what they are doing and thinking, I have to be able to react towards what my other teammates are doing without us even talking at times so spending that time in the off-season together, just chatting in person or even on zoom, FaceTime, Skype, whatever even playing videogames together helped our communication and thats the best thing you can have back there in the secondary is good communication. If you can’t communicate well off of the field together how are you going to communicate on the field? So we are trying to stay as a close knit group and a few of us were out here together in the off-season which helped and we are coming together close.”
Among the entire secondary and what looks to be the starting group for Saturday’s game in Edmonton looks to be Sherrod Baltimore, Abdul Kanneh, Don Unamba, Antoine Pruneau, and Randall Evans along with Gump Hayes, Marcus Lewis, Justin Howell, Brad Muhammad, Treshaun Abrahams Webster and Tony Anderson who are also on the 2021 Redblacks roster. The defence also has Cleyon Laing, Davon Coleman, Stefan Charles, Avery Ellis, and Stansly Maponga on the defensive line and Adam Auclair, Micah Awe, Avery Williams, Frankie Griffin, Brad Cowan, Dwayne Norman, Dan Basambombo, and Tyron Vrede at linebacker. Overall, this defence, coached by Benevides is something to be excited about and expect them, including CFL veteran Abdul Kanneh to have major seasons as they prove themselves to the CFL like they’ve been forced to do in previous years, like 2016 when Kanneh and the Redblacks won the Grey Cup.