In the aftermath of the Redblacks’ preseason win over the Toronto Argonauts, there was a theme that not many were talking about. Although the game was ultimately meaningless to the standings, it was just the third time the Redblacks had won on their home field dating back to the preseason of 2019. Wins have been hard to come by for the struggling franchise, but with a rebuilt roster, the Redblacks started the preseason off right, being Toronto 23-17. For defensive back Sherrod Baltimore, the win meant something, especially with it coming on home turf.
“It was a big deal,” Baltimore said. “I was happy to win. No one wants to lose, no matter if it’s preseason or just practice. It’s good to win, and it’s good to see the fans back out.”
Those past two seasons where the Redblacks struggled to win games is a very different team compared to what has been brought to training camp this season. The offence has been rebuilt, but on defence, quality veterans have been added, and Baltimore couldn’t be more complimentary of what their additions have brought to the team early on.
“Amazing, great, prospering, righteous, giving us wisdom, fire, they make plays,” Baltimore said, using every word he could think of to describe some of his new teammates. “You just become a natural leader, and you have to let the team figure that out. I’ve been here, so people come in here and look at me like a leader, but I still look at people and think ‘you’re looking at me?’ I’m still young, but I’m in the middle. I’m not young-young, but I still look up to guys like Abdul Kanneh, Antoine Pruneau, and even the new guys, Money Hunter and Patrick Levels. I can always learn.”
Although the players on the roster are reason for excitement, Baltimore couldn’t help but throw some credit to way of his defensive coordinator, Mike Benevides.
“One thing I will say is that we appreciate our defensive coordinator, Mike Benevides,” Baltimore said, never shy to shout out his coach. “We love him a lot. He gives us a lot of freedom. We’re vets, and he understands that and we can communicate with him. He’s a big part of this, so I can’t even lie about that. Coach Benevides is a hell of a coach.”
Some players who carry over from the 2021 season have mentioned that the season was unacceptable, including Cleyon Laing, but for Baltimore, there’s been no use thinking about it. It’s behind him, and he’s excited for what’s to come.
“I don’t really think about last year,” Baltimore said. “That’s gone out of my mind. This is a whole different team, so we’ll be fine. We’re excited. We’ve got Jeremiah Masoli, we’ve got Darvin Adams, we’ve got Ryan Davis, J.R. Harris, William Powell, Cleyon Laing, Jacob Ruby, all these guys.”
We won’t know for another handful of weeks what this iteration of the Redblacks looks like on the field, but the feeling around the team is much improved compared to last season. When Baltimore takes a look around the locker room and sees all of the faces around him, he knows this team has the potential to be special.
“We’ve got a better vibe, but we all know that we are special,” Baltimore said. “You don’t always see talented people on the same team like this, so you gotta know that. We gotta gel, and we gotta come to work every day.”
“Even when we leave the facility, we go to each other’s dorms and hang out with each other. I’m with Darvin Adams, Abdul Kanneh, and Jeremiah Masoli. When does a quarterback come to hang out with us? If he’s doing stuff like that, I know we are going to be special.”
Heading to Montreal for Friday night’s game, the Redblacks have just one thing on their minds.
“Win, that’s it,” Baltimore said. “We’re going to get better from last week, and fix the mistakes we made last week.”
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