The last time we had the ability to say the words, “It is Ottawa Redblacks game day” was on November 1st 2019 when the Redblacks hosted the Montreal Alouettes for their 2019 CFL season finale but today we can say it again. Ottawa will kickoff against the Edmonton Elks at Commonwealth Stadium tonight at 10:00 eastern open up their 2021 CFL return to play season and R-Nation should be beyond excited to have Redblacks football back.
Some things to be excited about and to keep eyes on as Redblacks fans would be the following:
Having a veteran starting quarterback again in Matt Nichols. Nichols will look to give a Trevor Harris or Henry Burris impact to the Redblacks offence in 2021 after a 2019 season which the team saw three different starting quarterbacks including Dominque Davis who will back up Nichols this season.
An experienced play caller in head coach Paul LaPolice. In 2019 the Redblacks had both Joe Paopao and Winston October calling plays for the offence. The two didn’t have much success, but LaPolice, coming off of a Grey Cup Championship in 2019 with Winnipeg should give Ottawa’s offence a fresh new look offence.
A new look receiving core. Ottawa had just one 1,000 yard receiver in 2019 in Dominique Rhymes but after losing him to the B.C Lions in free agency, and both Jalen Sunders and Brad Sinopoli to retirement the Redblacks have zero returning 1,000 yard receivers and only have one receiver under contract with a season over 500 yards in RJ Harris who looks to be the number one receiver in the capital. Eventhough they only have the one experienced receiver the Redblacks also have Daniel Petermann, Anthony Coombs and Nate Behar as Canadian receivers who have played in the league previously and CFL rookie receivers Jordan Smallwood and Ryan Davis alongside returner and receiver DeVonte Dedmon. This receiving core is a whole brand new look in the nation’s capital and Jordan Smallwood, Ryan Davis, DeVonte Dedmon, Anthony Coombs, R.J Harris and Daniel Petermann each will be exciting players to watch on the Redblacks offence. Just because they aren’t big names in the CFL like the opposing Greg Ellingson, Derel Walker, Armanti Edwards and Tevaun Smith it doesn’t mean that they won’t be big names by the end of the year.
Mike Benevides’ defence. One of the best in the league? Led by Cleyon Laing, Avery Ellis, Avery Williams, Don Unamba, Micah Awe, Sherrod Baltimore, Abdul Kanneh and Antoine Pruneau, Benevides has a very hungry defence in the capital and as they set up to play the Edmonton Elks today expect them to be on the front lines of the Redblacks success today and even moving forward into the season.
The special teams unit. Like always, the Ottawa Redblacks have the best special teams in the CFL. With Lewis Ward and Richie Leone kicking with the team once again, the Redblacks defence should always have the advantage as for field position, same with the offence with DeVonte Dedmon returning kicks if the return doesn’t make it all the way to the end zone.
Tune into TSN at 10:00 eastern time tonight for the Ottawa Redblacks’ first game of the 2021 CFL season.