The Ottawa Redblacks had the tables turned on them in week two of the preseason, with the Montreal Alouettes mounting a late comeback to win the game 27-26 with a touchdown in the final minute of the game. With the majority of the starters being left in Ottawa, the Redblacks sent their young players to fight for a roster spot on Friday night, and defensively, the decisions likely got a whole lot harder for head coach Paul LaPolice.
Three times, the Redblacks defence picked off Vernon Adams Jr., and another interception came against Trevor Harris, good for a total of four on the night. Daniel Valente out of Western University kicked the night off for Ottawa, before Hakeem Bailey intercepted two balls, and Alonzo Addae, the Redblacks’ second-round pick in 2021, picked up one himself.
“It was a great showing,” Addae said. “We still have a lot to work out, but taking the ball away is a key, so it was definitely good.”
“We talk so much about how important the ball is to our success, and they did an outstanding job of taking it away,” LaPolice said. “Hats off to them, we look forward to looking at the tape.”
Addae, who arrived late at Redblacks’ training camp after attending Arizona Cardinals rookie camp, finished the night without any tackles, but had a massive hit to break up a pass.
“I felt confident,” Addae said. “Obviously, there’s still a lot to work on and touch up, but I was excited to put on the jersey and go out there and compete.”
Ultimately, the final score of the game is meaningless, but that doesn’t mean that the game itself is. Bailey made a case for a roster spot with a pair of interceptions, especially with one of them coming on an impressively athletic play.
“I know this is an evaluation game, but I went out there just blessed to be playing in a game again,” Bailey said. “It’s been almost three years, so that’s all I was thinking about. You know this could be your last one if you don’t do good, just go out there and have fun, and be confident.”
For as impressive as the defence was, the offence struggled to put the ball in the endzone, and for the second consecutive week, LaPolice noted that in his post-game comments.
“I thought we did a lot of great things with a young crew of guys to get a bunch of takeaways in the first half,” LaPolice said. “But we didn’t capitalize in certain scenarios. When you turn the ball over twice in field goal range, there are six points right there, and we also couldn’t capitalize on all those takeaways. We moved the ball very well tonight, but we get stalled. We can’t not score on first and goal from the five, we gotta make sure we get the ball in the endzone.”
Still, the preseason is a time for evaluation and learning, and LaPolice said that the Redblacks will use it as just that.
“We’ll learn from it, but the young guys came out and did a good job,” LaPolice said.
The unfortunate reality for many players, however, is they won’t have the opportunity to learn from it, at least not on the Redblacks roster. Cuts will soon come down, and that’s not something LaPolice is looking forward to.
“It happens really quickly,” he said. “The hardest part, I think, is that you have a lot of kids who you have really enjoyed spending time with, and obviously, this team has to get smaller. It’s not the best thing for coaches, but we know it’s a part of the process.”
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