OTTAWA - Coming off the most lopsided loss in the short history of the franchise, the Ottawa Redblacks will put their resiliency to the test when they take on the Calgary Stampeders on Saturday.
Ottawa (1-4) suffered an embarrassing 38-14 defeat to the Saskatchewan Roughriders at home last weekend, but Redblacks head coach Rick Campbell hopes some of the problems will be addressed as his team hits the road to face the 4-1 Stampeders.
"It's pro football and you move on to the next one and we addressed it two days ago as far as the corrections that needed to be done," Campbell said. "Sometimes you have a bad day at the office, but you come back and go back to work and we'll be ready for the next one."
Despite their record, the Redblacks have been competitive in most of the games they've played. Campbell said he is pleased with the overall performance of his players.
"I've been proud of the way we've played, other than we lost our way, particularly in the first quarter of the Saskatchewan game," Campbell said. "We were a little bit out of sorts and I don't think that was typical of our guys and I expect them to come back and play like we have been for most of the year and obviously trying to make a few more plays to make sure we win."
What the Redblacks seem to lack is the ability to play a complete game. If the team comes out strong it seems to struggle in the second half, or as evident from Saturday's loss, can struggle early on and come back with a solid second half.
"We just need to find our groove and play together and everybody just do their job and execute what they're supposed to do," said defensive lineman Jonathan Williams. "We just have to play all four quarters and stop shooting ourselves in the foot. We're not out of a game by a long shot, we just need to put it all together."
Quarterback Henry Burris says he's been in this position before and has seen things turn around. last year with Hamilton, Burris saw the Tiger-Cats get off to a 1-4 start before eventually advancing to the Grey Cup.
Burris would love to see a similar turnaround in Ottawa, but at this point he would settle for another Redblacks victory which he believes would reap huge dividends.
"Right now we have the players that can make the plays and get the things done, we just have to make those things happen," said Burris. "We got embarrassed. We got our butts kicked and if that doesn't hammer a point home as far as what we have to do to become the team we have to become then I don't know, but I'm very confident that we're going to bounce back and do some much better things as far as this week."
Getting it all together is what's proving to be the challenge, but with a few adjustments the Redblacks are confident everything will fall into place.
Part of the adjustment appears to be player movement as veteran linebacker and defensive captain T.J. Hill was released Tuesday.
"T.J. Hill is an excellent pro in every sense of the word and has played a long time in the league and done a lot of good things," said Campbell. "I wish him nothing but the best and he did everything that was asked of him here. We're fortunate enough that we have some young guys that have stepped up faster than we had anticipated and we want to give those young guys an opportunity to play. "
One of those young players is 24-year-old Antoine Pruneau, the fourth overall pick in the 2014 CFL draft.
Pruneau had seen playing time on special teams and is now expecting to see an increase in his workload as he is expected to replace Hill.
"I'm thrilled as it's a great challenge for me," said Pruneau. "It's a position where I can show all my strength which is a good thing for a guy like me. It's sad to see a guy like TJ go, but I learned a lot from him and I thank him for that."
Notes: The Redblacks will be without DL Justin Phillips for the remainder of the season. Phillips broke his left fibula earlier this season and further tests showed he required surgery. The injury is not considered to be career threatening. DL Jonathan Williams, OL J'Micheal Deane and RB Chevon Walker were signed to two-year extensions, while QB Thomas DeMarco, DL Zack Evans and DL Justin Capicciotti signed one-year extensions. The Redblacks also added cornerbacks Chris L. Rucker and Abdul Kanneh, safety Richard Spencer and WR Khalil Paden to its practice roster.
© Coast Reporter