CFL Pass

He's No. 1 … Ottawa Redblacks pick Dominique Davis to be starting QB

A bit less than two weeks before the CFL regular season opens, the suspense is over — Dominique Davis will be the Ottawa Redblacks starting quarterback in Game 1 June 15 in Calgary.

Davis will be the No. 1 QB ahead of Jonathon Jennings, who threw for more than 5,000 passing yards as the B.C. Lions starter in 2016. The duo came into training camp labelled 1A and 1B. But it’s likely the team had a pretty good idea long ago that Davis would be the starter, at least to start the season.

“I’ve been waiting a long time for this moment,” said Davis following Monday’s practice at TD Place. “I’m excited I finally got this opportunity. I don’t want to let my teammates, the coaches or the front office down.”

“He has a really good command of the offence and the players believe in him so he’s going to be our guy,” said Redblacks coach Rick Campbell. “Jonathon has been around this league long enough to know what happens. Obviously, Dominique’s excited and Jonathon’s going to keep working. You need at least two guys you can count on to win you games — both those guys can win games.

“Everybody had to have their first chance to do it. (Davis has) played in games and done things. I really don’t think it’s going to faze him. You can’t be afraid of new.”

Released by the Calgary Stampeders in 2015, Davis was picked up by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers — he played there for three seasons. Last season, he was the backup to starter Trevor Harris in Ottawa, mostly used in short-yardage situations — rushing for six touchdowns. He also completed 24-of-39 passes for 373 yards and three touchdowns.

In his CFL time, he’s been behind three of the league’s elite quarterbacks: Bo Levi Mitchell, Matt Nichols and Harris.

“I’ve been watching those guys — they all do great things,” said Davis, who will turn 30 in mid-July. “I feel I can join that club. As a quarterback, especially in this league, you have to be patient, you have to wait for your time. The time is here. I’m ready to work, I’m ready to go.”

Davis played the first quarter in the Redblacks’ 25-21 pre-season game loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Saturday, completing 5-of-7 passes for 118 yards. One of those completions came on his team’s first offensive play from scrimmage, when he rolled out right and found Caleb Holley for a 62-yard connection. Jennings played in the second quarter, completing 4-of-8 passes for 75 yards.

“The game was another thing that showed he’s a guy that can run the show and feel comfortable with it,” said Campbell. “I sure like his approach and his demeanour. He really has a very good command of our offence —the terminology, being able to tell other players, if needed, where to line up. He’s very comfortable with that scenario because he’s been around here before.’

R.J. RELEASED: The Redblacks released WR R.J. Shelton Sunday. Shelton had a tough-luck injury (believed to be Achilles) Saturday against the Ticats. On a first-quarter kickoff return, his left leg collapsed and he fell to the ground with the ball popping out of his hands as he hit the turf. Shelton, who was with the team early in 2018 before being released in August, had been playing well in training camp. Said GM Marcel Desjardins: “These are the conditions within which we work —when a rookie player is hurt, obviously we’re responsible for the medical side of it, but contractually if we (kept) every rookie that got hurt, we wouldn’t be in existence right now. That’s our reality. I think most guys understand it and know what’s coming when it happens. We have to be black and white with it, we can’t make emotional decisions.” Said Campbell: “He had such a good camp. I was excited for him. He looked even better and more comfortable this year. It bums you out when that happens because (players) put in a lot of work. I hope he’s back and at it again.”

IN AND OUT: The Redblacks also released DB/returner Troy Stoudermire and signed DB Shamar Busby (Southeastern Louisiana), DL John Sheehy (West Texas A&M) and DL Kevin Bronson (South Florida). Speaking about Stoudermire, Desjardins said: “It’s a combination of maybe he wasn’t quite where we were hoping he would be, but also how happy we are with some of the other players that are here and feel that their ceiling is much higher because they’re younger — they have a lot of room to grow.” Asked about Busby, who the team released a week ago, Desjardins said: “It’s a combination of things. It’s a function of looking at him again for purposes of Canadian depth long term, also making sure we have enough cover for (Thursday’s pre-season) game in Montreal.” Speaking about the new defensive linemen in camp, he said: “It’s not that we needed to have guys in terms of numbers, but they’re guys we liked. It’s going to be a quick turnaround for them, basically two practices and a game, but those are the circumstances they’re dealing with and let’s see what they do for us.”

THE END AROUND: The CFL issued a one-game suspension to DB Jonathan Rose after he shoved an official during last season’s East Final. Following an appeal, Rose was allowed to play in the Grey Cup. But the suspension wasn’t lifted. Nobody’s quite sure when he’ll serve it, though. Said Desjardins: “I haven’t heard anything.” Asked about it, Rose said: “I haven’t heard anything yet, I’m still playing it by ear. The less said, the better.” … A bit of a scary moment mid-practice when receiver R.J. Harris was bumped by defensive back Corey Tindal and ran into a piece of equipment along the sideline. Harris was down for a bit, but looked to be OK … It looks like several of the Redblacks starters will not play in the team’s second pre-season game Thursday in Montreal. “We will take maybe not a bare-bones number, but we won’t take many guys there — there will be a lot of young guys playing,” said Desjardins. … The Edmonton Eskimos released former Redblacks QB Danny O’Brien on the weekend … Asked about his team’s performance against the Ticats, Desjardins said: “I liked what we did in a number of areas. It was nice to see a spark in the return game, which is something we need. When I’m watching those games — not that I’m not evaluating the guys we expect to play, but the focus is more on the young guys or the ones who are new to our environment and at the end of the day, I thought a lot of them did a lot of good things.”


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