It was announced today at practice that Crockett would be the starting running-back this week. Crockett started the season on the practice roster, and after releasing WR Ryan Lankford, Crockett was promoted to the active roster. Last week, John Crockett played in his first ever CFL regular season game. He rushed for 62 yards on 8 carries.
With Madu having some trouble in this year’s season, coach Rick Campbell is starting Crockett over Madu in this week’s match up.
The offense has yet to display a big play in this season, and last week against Montreal, Crockett showed some glimpses, and might just be the next best player for the REDBLACKS!
With the REDBLACKS on a 2 game losing streak, the club has announced that Jennings would start in Winnipeg this Friday. Winnipeg is 4-0 and will be a challenge for the new comer.
On Monday, Rick Campbell was on TSN 1200, and stated that Davis would be their guy if healthy. This must mean Dominique is not healthy enough to start in Winnipeg this Friday.
Jennings is in his 5th season in the CFL, spending 4 in BC, where he’d start 44 games and throw for over 12,000 yards.
In 2016, Jennings started 18 of 18 games, and threw for 5,226 yards and 27 touchdowns while using his legs for 363 yards and 4 touchdowns. In the 2016 season, he and the Lions lost in the West Final, ending the season with a 12-6 record.
With Jennings starting this week’s game, it could mean change to the REDBLACKS offense. The REDBLACKS are 2-2, and currently losing the turnover battle. The team hasn’t been able to make plays when plays are needed, so if Jennings can make plays he might be in longer than expected.
Moton Hopkins, who played 44 games at Tulsa University before coming to the CFL rallied up 216 tackles and 8 sacks in his NCAA career! The outstanding numbers in his final two seasons turned the heads of the staff of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Hopkins played the 2010 season in Winnipeg, where he’d have 7 tackles and one sack. Despite the low number of tackles, Hopkins got two turnovers where he’d run one back for a 36 yard pick-six!
The two turnovers he’d recover in his CFL rookie season lit the eyes of the Montreal Alouettes, where he’d spend the next 3 season! Throughout the time spend in Montreal, he would record 33 tackles to go with 5 sacks and a fumble recovery!
The CFLPA representative was on the market once again, but this time it wasn’t free agency. In the 2013-14 off-season, Hopkins was elected by the REDBLACKS 3rd overall in the Expansion draft!
In his seasons spent in the nation’s capital, he had 53 tackles, 8 sacks and one fumble recovery while also being a defensive captain on the team.
His 53 tackles and 8 sacks were not quite the accomplishment with the REDBLACKS… In both the 2015 and 2016 seasons, the team participated in Grey Cups! As a captain of the 2016 team, Moton Hopkins won his first career Grey Cup!
After winning the Grey Cup, the team voted that Moton Hopkins would help design the championship ring!
The ring that he’d eventually wear on the sidelines! In the 2017 off-season, Hopkins retired and became a defensive assistant coach!
Moton has been out of football for 2 seasons now, and I was able to catch up with him with a quick interview on Friday afternoon!
Q: In your time spent in Ottawa, you saw first hand how different the 2015 and 16′ seasons were compared to the 2014 season… What was different about the 2014 season that made it more difficult to win games?
A: “We had a year that we played with each other, and got familiar with it. The first year, we had a good group of people, we just weren’t closing out games. The first year we went 2-16, about 10 of those games we lost by less than ten points. We were really almost there, but having more time together, and adding some key players that helped out on offense, so we just got better from there! We really learnt how to play together, and we finished games.”
Q: Was leadership ever a problem in the 2014 season?
A: “I wouldn’t say so, the guys were leading just as hard in other years. We just couldn’t close games, so that was the main problem.”
Q: In your career, you were coached by great guys in the college and pro level. What do you have to say about the success Rick Campbell has had early in his coaching career?
A: “Coach Campbell’s success has to do with how hard he works, he’s really a hard worker! He demands a lot out of us (the players), but at the same time he has enough to balance it with getting work done when it’s needed and not overworking guys! He’s one that you’ call a players coach, he’d communicate us and ask how we’re doing on the field and off the field. He was really always there for us, but also worked us hard at the same time. He was a great listener and I believe that plays a huge role in his success!”
Q: During your career you were also able to play for both coaches, Mark Nelson and Noel Thorpe. What do you have to say about what they’ve done together in the last two seasons?
A: “I’d say that they’re doing a great job! They both lost pieces over the years and were able to come over that and build success alone, and now that they’re together, it’s huge for Ottawa. They have a great way of not just finding talent bu also creating talent, and that is a big reason why they’ve had success on their respective sides. They both are similar towards their coaching styles, so the defense has done well going after offenses since they joined sides. Along with Coach Blugh, the defense is being coached by some great guys, and shouldn’t have much trouble in future years.”
Q: After your playing career, you were able to join forces with the REDBLACIKS and help coach a little in 2017. Since then, have you considered coming back to football as a coach?
A: “Ya, I would definitely consider coming back. Coaching is something I really enjoyed, it’s much different than playing, because your not on the field hitting, but you’re working just as much. Coaches add so much value to the game, and I would love to share all the knowledge I may never use again. I played 7 years in the CFL and I have some knowledge a team would love. It was fun to be in that position, and players wouldn’t be in their positions without coaches, so I hope to make an impact sometime soon!”
Q: In the seasons you played in the league, you were able to play with some great guys, what do you have to say about both Sherrod Baltimore and Jonathan Rose’s success early in their careers?
A: “I think they’re great! They both are passionate guys, and that’s the biggest thing! There’s lots of talented players, but the ability to study and your love for the game can either help you or kill you in football. Those two guys are extremely passionate, and they study a lot! I think a few games back, Baltimore had a fumble where Rose brought for a TD, that was just Sherrod putting everything he had into the hit, and Rose was in the right spot! If you play the game and study enough, the game becomes easier, and much for fun! These guys are having fun!”
Q: You were able to play in the first ever grey cup championship here in Ottawa for the REDBLACKS! when the final whistle blew at BMO Field, what was going through your head?
A: “It was a very surreal moment, it was one of those moments where you pause and I was just thinking to myself “We did it, but what’s next?”, everything was going on the field. There were a lot of emotions, it was my first championship in 7 years. As an athlete, you put everything in for championships, so to live in that moment, it was crazy. It was a great group of guys to experience that with!”
Q: As a veteran defensive lineman, you’ve played against multiple great offensive lineman also, who would be the toughest guys you’ve gone up against?
A: “It’s tough to single out guys, because each one of them has worked so hard in their careers. One would have to be Stanley Bryant, he was a tough offensive lineman to go up against.Michael Ola, who I played with before is a great offensive lineman, who is now in the NFL. Tyler Holmes, who I played with at Tulsa, and got to play against in the CFL. All the guys on the Edmonton, and Toronto lines are all guys that I can remember being tough to go against. I can see them lined up in front of me, but cant figure the names out. Every single offensive lineman that I’ve gone up against has my respect. They’ve never gotten enough credit for what they’ve done for their offensive players behind them, and it’s real hard to single them out individually. The guys on the line challenge me and the rest of the defense every week and made us all better athletes!”
In this afternoon’s game at TD Place, the REDBLACKS fell short to the Alouettes 36-19. The Redblacks now fall to 3rd place in the division behind both Hamilton and Montreal at 2-2 on the season.
Strong run game
During the week, the team made a roster change, that would bring up running-back, John Crockett to the active roster. Crockett and Madu combined for a total of 109 yards on the ground on just 19 touches! Along with two very strong running-backs, the Redblacks also found themselves with a mobile QB, Dominique Davis, who now leads the league with 5 rushing touchdowns added to his total with 21 yards and 2 touchdowns!
Despite the challenge to throw the ball, the team did not have much troubles running the ball against the tough Montreal Defense!
R.J Harris stays a consistent target for Davis
Coming off of a fumble in the first half, the now dual threat receiver had another great game for the REDBLACKS! Once again, he leads the team in receiving with 89 yards on 6 catches… That gives him 309 yards on the year, and also gives Dominique Davis someone to throw to!
Lewis Ward continues streak
Lewis Ward, the only kicker in the league not to miss yet this season! Lewis also continues his streak of consecutive field goals which he had started last season! With a 50 yard field goal today, his streak continues to 61!
Jerrell Gavins, defensive back from Miami, FL experienced 4 years of cool weather here in Ottawa and loved every minute of it! The hype man in the secondary who retired in February of this year ended his career with 167 tackles and 7 interceptions!
The now 30 year old, is living back home in Miami, where he is a manager at a local ALDI grocery and goods store. At the store, he is now making ore money than he did in his first years in the CFL, where he can provide for his family, his wife and daughter who is now 1 years old!
This morning, I was able to catch up with the former Redblack, and got to ask him what he’s got to say about his time in Ottawa and the future he sees here in Ottawa.
Q: In your time in Ottawa, you experienced the transition from being an expansion team to pretty well being Grey Cup champions… What was different about the 2015-16 seasons compare to the 2014 season that gave you more success?
A: “It was all the same core that was there, statistically we had a very good in 14′. In the 2014 season, we had a lot of very close games, but could never finish offensively, so one thing that made the next years different would have to be the big transactions that made our offense stronger. The signing of Jeremiah (Johnson), Chris (Williams), E Jack (Ernest Jackson) and Sinopoli were all huge for the team’s future! In both the 2015 and 16′ season, the offense really took off, and the defense progressively got better. In my eyes, what made us better were about 5 guys that we signed, and along with the newly signed guys, the veterans from the year before stepped up, and made the team better!“
Q: In your last few years of your career, you played with both Sherrod Baltimore and Jonathan Rose. What do you have to say about the success they both have had together early in their careers?
A: “They’re just different! Seriously though, Rose is a gorilla, he’s fast, strong and he understands the game! And when it comes to B More (Baltimore), you rarely ever see him not close to making a play! He has instincts out of this world and he can move like a cat! Both of them are ballers, and have bright futures ahead!”
Q: In the time spent here in Ottawa, you got to play under defensive coach, Mark Nelson! What do you have to say about the success both he and Noel Thorpe have had together this year and last?
A: “Coaches know the game! There’s 24 hours in a day, I believe 18 of those hours, they spend in the stadium watching film and just studying. Every time I as a player showed up to the stadium, could even be a day off, I’d see Nelson working on his craft! The coaches in Ottawa do a good job of critiquing you as a player and telling you what you did wrong, you really get to learn more and more as you play! The coaches are very free, and they let you express what you feel about certain play calls, and I feel that is what makes them so successful compare to others!“
Q: In your career, you had quite the success as a player, have you considered coming back as a player?
A: “I would, I’ve considered it many times! Not necessarily Canadian football, but anywhere! Life without football is much different! I work at a grocery store now, and the communication isn’t the same! On the field, I was always a vocal player, but I cant just yell “great play” or “I see you” in the middle of a store! I miss the little things about the game, and yes, I would definitely come back as a coach!”
This Saturday, the Ottawa Redblacks will face off against division rival, Motreal Alouettes at 4:00 ET at TD Place, Ottawa! The Redblacks, who are 2-1 will be playing in their first divisional game of the season.
What to look for
Pass early, run later
Tomorrow will be the first game this season against a division team! So, we’re going to want to score fast! How do you move the ball fast? The pass game… Early in the game, we should see Dominique Davis air the ball out. Once the defense is thinking pass, Mossis Madu shouldn’t have too tough of a time on the run!
Strong return game
Last week, Ryan Lankford had a little mishap which ended in a Winnipeg takeaway… This week, the club let Lankford go and made a roster move which would give both R.J Harris and John Crockett all return responsibilities!
With the team releasing both Ryan Lankford and Troy Stoudermire already because of returning mistakes, both R.J Harris and John Crockett know that they’re playing with their jobs on the line! I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the two returners have a few big returns!
This week, the club brought up running-back, John Crockett from the practice roster. Crockett had 16 touches in the pre-season which led him to 117 total yards. The experienced back should do well with starting running-back, Mossis Madu. Madu has 216 all-purpose yards already this season! If both backs share time for tomorrow’s game, we should have quite the run game!
In the 2019 season, the Ottawa defense has 7 turnovers! One which ended in a touchdown last week, where Jonathan Rose picked up Sherrod Baltimore’s forced fumble!
In tomorrow’s game against Montreal, we should be hungry for a turnover or two!
Henry Burris, a name that everyone should know by now. The 3-time Grey Cup champion and 2-time CFL MOP has been nothing but an amazing athlete, person and leader here in Ottawa.
Burris spent 3 seasons with Ottawa before he retired in 2016. Before leaving the team as a champion, Henry turned the 2-16 expansion team into the 8-9-1 Grey Cup champions! Although it seems for us that he only did the dirty work here in Ottawa, Burris helped the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders, Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to go with his last dance here in Ottawa.
The now retired Quarterback who is looked at as a hall of famer is in the record books with over 63,000 yards passing, 376 passing touchdowns to go with 5,757 yards and 68 rushing touchdowns. With 277 games played, he is a part of CFL history, being third in both CFL career passing yards and touchdowns!
This afternoon, I was able to get a quick interview in with the all-star Quarterback about his success and other players and coaches success!
Q: In your time here in Ottawa, you helped turn around the organization back in 2015… What was different about the 2-16 season compare to the 2015,16 grey cup years?
A: “Just the transition from having a lot of young guys, in 2014 we had a lot of guys looking for opportunities and moving on with our careers, and there were also lots of young guys trying to make a name for their self in professional football. In the 2015-16 seasons, it was different, we now had veteran players with Sir Vincent Rogers, Chris Williams and Ernest Jackson. The talent that we brought in went with the young guys who were then experienced through all the tough times in 2014 and became veteran players with a journey. With it all, the expansion year in 2014, we were given a lot of young guys, and for 2015-16 where we won it all, we had veteran players who’d teach the younger guys. The leadership on the 2015 team was phenomenal and that is what was different about the season, leadership.“
Q: In your career in the CFL you turned around 4 different franchises, which turn around do you feel was your best?
A: ” Here (Ottawa) was hands down the best! It was new in every way, we had to create a brand new model and not only promise something, but go out and do it as well. The other organizations have been around for a long time and had their benefits, but the fact that this (Ottawa) came from scratch is nuts! When we had to get fans out, many people reflected on the past. To see us put this all together and give the city their first Grey Cup in 40 some years was just an awesome experience.”
Q: Throughout your career, you had the chance to have played with many great athletes that are looked at as all-time greats… who is a player that has stood out, but never got enough credit for what they’ve done?
A: ” For me, it’s not just one player but multiple… the offensive line on every team! To me, my best friends are always the offensive linemen. From Jon Gott, Sir Vincent Rogers, I mean all the big guys I’ve played with are not the guys in front of camera’s, and doing interviews. Those are the guys behind the scenes that a lot of people may not talk about but at the end of the day and guys are highlighted for their jobs like the Brad Sinopoli’s, the Joffrey Reynolds and the Ken-Yon Rambo’s that I’ve played with, if it hadn’t been for the guys up front, giving me time to throw, none of this would be possible. So, that’s why I always tip my hat off to the offensive-line, and whenever they were hungry or thirsty, you’d always see me out at restaurants and at different places making sure they had smiles on their faces and telling them thank you in our own way.”
Q: In your first time with Calgary, you were a part of the “next man up” system… now REDBLACKS QB Dominique Davis is in the same position, what do you have to say about Davis’ transition to QB1?
A: “I’m loving it, early on, there’s always ups and downs. He’s got to ride that roller coaseter and learn throughout every step. This is what it’s all about, there has never really been a quarterback that stepped on the field and had immediate success. I mean Tom Brady is a different story, with the team he had built around him, that made it easy for Belichick to say ‘Just don’t make a mistake”, because it was possible for him not to. Not everyone gets to experience the luxury of having a team built around you like they had for Brady, so Dom has done a great job with his situation. Dominique is new to it, but there are also more guys around him new to it,including the play caller. Imean, he’s the pedal stool here in Ottawa’s organization, everything revolves around him and he’s got to use his heart to make sure the boat floats.”
Q: Dom is experiencing all of this early on in his career.. what advice would you give him, entering the next years as a starting quarterback?
A: “Don’t change who you are. The work always continues, and the fact that you’re going to learn (I learned in my 20th season, you always will learn something) , never have the big head, always stay young, keep your ears open and use your experience to be able to dilute whats good and whats not good for you. Be the filter in the locker room, because the guys in there are the reason why you are where you are now. Be the leader, not the dictator, but be a leader.”
Q: Early in your CFL career, you were given nickname Smiling Hank… Was there ever a time in your career that didn’t put a smile on your face and made you want to quit?
A: “Never wanted to quit, never. I’ve had people tell me that I smile too much! That must be why some people don’t like me, because I’m too happy! But what else could I do, the smile is a part of me, it is me! When I’m on the field, I’m competing, so if there’s a smile on my face there’s a good reason for it! I’ve always been Smiling Hank, and nothing will change that!”
Q: Throughout your career, you’ve played under many great coaches. In the time spent in Ottawa,you played under rookie head coach Rick Campbell. What do you have to say about the success he’s had early in his coaching career?
A: “It’s something I expected, before my Ottawa days, I was lucky to play with him as a coach in Calgary and I even played against him when he was with Edmonton. Playing with him in Calgary and Ottawa, knowing him personally gave me the knowing that he had the “steady eddy”, cool and calm personality. When I got to now him, I knew he was going to be a fabulous head coach and I was happy to have played under him in a Grey Cup run. He hasn’t changed, even after his success, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a few more great years here in Ottawa!”
Q: You had a very long playing career here in the CFL, and there is no doubt that you love the game of football… Have you considered coming back as a coach?
A: “No, I’d be single if I did. I’d rather spend as much time with my family as I would as a coach. As a player, I experienced first hand how much time goes into being a coach. It takes just as long to be a coach as it does to be a player. It would be a fun experience with the game of football, but I’ve got enough running around to do for my family!”
The newly signed linebacker, who has spent time in the CFL with both Toronto and Saskatchewan, along with time with NFL organizations such as, Tampa Bay, Tennessee and Washington. The new Redblacks’ linebacker set records with over 120 tackles in his rookie season in 2015 with the Riders’. Linebacker, Kevin Francis suffered an injury in the Ottawa Redblacks’ home opener, looks as if Knox could be a replacement for the time Francis will miss.
Q: In your time spent in the CFL, you’ve played multiple games here in Ottawa… How excited are you to play in from of Ottawa’s fans?
A: “Man, I’m very excited! This is one of the best stadiums in the league as you know the fanbase in great. Every time I played against Ottawa, I always wondered what its like playing for them, and now I’m here! Looking forward to making them (the fans) happy!“
Q: Being signed after Friday’s loss to Winnipeg, what kind of impact should we expect with your addition to the team?
A: “It’s going to be physical, fast, explosive, smart and I’m going to try and get my teammates to trust me to make plays. We’re going to win football games.”
Q: In your rookie year, you rallied up over 120 total tackles. With the defense here in Ottawa that is built around you, do you have a certain number of tackles as a goal to achieve this season?
A: “I’m here 4 games into the season and not sure if I’ll play the first one I’m here for, but when I’m on the field, I’m going to get enough tackles to help win a game! Whether its 100 (tackles) or if its 10 (tackles), as long as we win, I’ll be happy!
Alex Mateas, the CFL’s first overall pick from 2015’s CFL draft has brought success with him to Ottawa. The Ottawa native is now participating in his 5th CFL season with his hometown team. The year before Alex had been signed by Ottawa, the REDBACKS went 2-16, finishing last place in the league. Since Mateas has been on the team, the team has had 4 straight winning seasons, ending 3 of them in the Grey Cup! Good luck? I think so!
Today at REDBLACKS practice, I was fortunate enough to catch up with Mateas about his 5th season here in Ottawa.
Q: This is now year 5 for you in the CFL, and you are starting to be known more as a veteran player in the league, as a rookie offensive lineman in Alex Fontana, has he looked up to you for advice this season?
A: “I’m not too sure if he looks up to me, but we do have a little bit of communication about getting better. I believe that he’s got a lot of great skills that he can bring up to the game up here, so I’d love to contribute and help as much as I can!“
Q: Just years ago, you were in the same position as him, how does it feel to be a role model on such a successful franchise here in Ottawa?
A: ” It means absoloutley everything to me, when I first came in I relied on the veteran guys for advice on everything I was doing. It was guys like Sir Vincent Rogers, Jon Gott, J’Michael Deane and Nolan MacMillan, who’d help me out on a daily basis, and I don’t think I’d be where I am without them. So knowing how much it means to these rookie guys, I’m going to help out as much as I can early on in their careers.”
Q: 5 years ago, you were drafted first overall to your hometown team. What has it been like playing here?
A: ” It has been unbelievable, a dream come true in fact. Almost no one has gotten the opportunity I’ve had, so I really try and remember how grateful I am. I get to see my mom, dad and my sisters and 30+ friends and family cheering me on and being so supportive at every game. I just want to play well, and make them proud, and playing for my home team is a ream come true!”
Q: In your time here in Ottawa, you’ve played with Hall of Fame QB, Henry Burris. What do you have to sayabout Dominique Davis’ transition to QB1?
A: “Hank had so many great pieces to his game, and Dom is a young guy who has shown that he is a very smart guy also. Most importantly, you could just tell that he loves the game and his teammates. Everything he does in the building is to get better and help out as much as he can. It’s an absolute pleasure to block for him and watch him grow as a player and a person.
Q: After losing Powell in free agency, Mossis Madu has taken role at running-back. How do you feel about the run game this year?
A: ” I feel really good about the run game, as you know Mossis has been in Ottawa for almost 4 years now. We are really lucky to have him as our guy, because he’s been in the system, and he knows what his role is with the organization. We’re very confident in the run game, and we just have to keep pushing it and executing all the plays that the coaches put in.”