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Ottawa Redblacks can only look ahead and not worry about the ugly past

As the Ottawa Redblacks plug on without safety Antoine Pruneau — another starter to add to an absurdly lengthy injured list — they’ve already put on the blinders.

There’s no sense focusing on Saturday’s 46-17 meltdown to the Toronto Argos — some disgusted fans started heading to the exits in the third quarter — and there’s no need to do the mathematics and worry about the what-ifs it’s going to take to somehow miraculously slide into a playoff spot. When you’ve got a 3-8 record, a lot of things have to fall in place around you — potential crossover Edmonton losing a bunch of games would be one of them — and frankly, this time has got to play a helluva lot better.

With seven games left, it’ll be week to week — with the Redblacks needing to focus on this Friday’s showdown with the B.C. Lions in Vancouver. It doesn’t matter that the Lions have just one win — as bad as the Redblacks have been at times, it’s more about them than it is about the opponent.

“I remind myself it’s worth it to keep working and keep going,” said Redblacks coach Rick Campbell following an abbreviated team walkthrough Monday at TD Place. “There are still a lot of reasons to win. And we need to build and show progress. There’s still a lot of football left to play. I know it’s a broken record, but we have to keep going and put all our energy into finding a way to beat B.C. this week. As players and coaches, we have to play better and coach better to get some W’s.”

“We’re always looking ahead, but the coaches and the players have to worry about this week,” said Redblacks GM Marcel Desjardins. “You worry about this week, try to find a way to win, then move onto the next week from there. We just have to win games.”

As TSN 1200’s A.J. Jakubec pointed out Monday as he took a walk down bad-memory lane, the Redblacks are chasing their own history — and it’s not something to be proud of. In 2014, their expansion season, the Redblacks lost 16 games — six of them by more than 14 points. Through 11 games in 2019, they’ve already lost six by 14 or more, including the last three times they’ve played. Four of those six blowouts have come at home. The most blowouts (losing by at least 14) by an Ottawa team on home field? Five. You’ve got to turn the clock back two franchises — to the Ottawa Rough Riders of 1988 — which wound up with a 2-16 record. This season, the Redblacks have already lost four by 14 or more at home.

There’s no blowing smoke up anybody’s rear end, this team has been real bad some nights.

Those hoping for some kind of instant fix may be disappointed. It’s probably going to have be the guys already on the roster trying to find a way to win enough games to slip into the playoffs.

“(What’s happened offensively) is very disappointing, of course it is,” said Desjardins. “There are a lot of good pieces here, but the puzzle has never come together. At this point of the season, there’s only so much you can do to fix it.”

Hope for the best, but don’t hold your breath waiting.

LOSING PRUNEAU HURTS: Safety Antoine Pruneau got injured on the first play of Saturday’s game — a kickoff — but tried to hang in there and play. He would later leave the field unable to continue and could be absent from the lineup for awhile with could be a foot injury (he was wearing a walking boot on the Ottawa sideline).

“He’s going to be out long-term,” said Desjardins. “He tried to fight it, he thought it was more like a charley-horse or a bruise or something like that.”

“He’s got to get another test done, but he’s not ruled out for the rest of the season,” said Campbell. “It’s too bad for a guy like Pruneau. It’s disappointing for him to battle some injuries. He’s a tough guy and I know we’ll have him back. I told you guys before that if doctors weren’t involved he’d play with one arm or whatever he had to do. Guys like him are kind of throwback guys.”

FEELING BAD FOR DAVIS: Desjardins said the deck was stacked against QB Dominique Davis before the season started. The team decided it could move ahead without Trevor Harris (who signed with Edmonton in free agency) and re-signed Davis in January. In eight games, Davis had 14 interceptions and five touchdown passes. He was replaced as the team’s starter before last week’s game.

“The biggest reason for (Davis’ struggles) is because of the off-season change we had at the (offensive co-ordinator) spot (Jaime Elizondo quit the first week of April and his job title was never replaced),” said Desjardins. “If we had somebody different in that role — not to take anything away from the coaches who are here trying to get it done, they’ve been put in difficult circumstances to try to pull this thing together — but I do feel if we had somebody who Dom had a rapport with and could help him along, things would have played out differently. This is the hand we were dealt, it’s the hand he was dealt. I feel bad for him — I don’t think it’s a true reflection on what he is as a quarterback.”

The GM said the team will have an offensive co-ordinator in place for next season.

THE END AROUND: It got lost in the disappointment of Saturday’s loss, but it was a big game for Redblacks defensive tackle George Uko, who had an interception (his career-first) and a fumble recovery. Asked about his interception, where Argos QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson threw it right into Uko’s big mitts, he said: “When I caught the ball, I was thinking, ‘You caught the ball, you’re a hero, don’t try to be a superhero. Give the offence possession of the ball.’ ” … The Redblacks have signed a couple of players to their practice roster: RB Isaiah Johnson (Eastern Illinois) and WR Shannon Smith (West Georgia) … In advance of their game against Ottawa, B.C. has added offensive lineman Josiah St. John (the first overall choice by Saskatchewan in the 2016 CFL Draft). He was released by the Argos in June. The Lions have also added former University of Ottawa DB Jamie Harry … Former Redblacks QB Trevor Harris, now with Edmonton, left in the first half of Saturday’s 33-17 loss to Calgary with an “upper-body” injury. No word yet as to the severity of the injury — the Eskimos are on a bye week … For those who noticed, I made a careless mistake in my last Redblacks story — saying they have two games left against each of B.C. and Hamilton – both of which I said were statistically bad. Of course, I meant Toronto, not Hamilton — the first-place Ticats obviously are very good statistically.


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Source: winnipegsun.com