Slumping Ottawa Redblacks look to snap skid against B.C. Lions
OTTAWA — The Ottawa Redblacks know their playoff chances are quickly slipping away.
Losers of five in a row, the Redblacks (3-9) are in desperate need of a victory to stay in post-season contention.
Ottawa hosts the B.C. Lions (2-10) Saturday night in the back end of a home-and-home series between two of the CFL's worst clubs.
"It's make or break," said Redblacks quarterback Jonathon Jennings. "We've been saying that the last couple of weeks. It's been frustrating, but we're just trying to control what we can. We're trying to go out there and compete. I will continue to bring as much effort as I possibly can to try to help this team win."
Jennings was 19-for-31 passing for 239 yards last week, but was picked off twice and sacked four times by his former club.
Jennings replaced Dominique Davis as starter two weeks ago in the hope he could get the team back on track. But in many ways, nothing has changed as the reigning East Division champs continue to lose.
"It's a funny thing when you're not successful because you're obviously like 'what are we doing wrong?'" said Jennings.
"We're clearly not doing something right; we keep losing football games and in the past couple weeks we weren't even competing. Obviously, we've been assessing ourselves and looking in the mirror to figure out what we need to do. I don't second guess my talent. I don't second guess our talent as a team. We're just trying to continue to work this thing out and find ways to be better."
Head coach Rick Campbell admits the stretch of losses has taken a toll.
"You definitely learn a lot about yourself," said Campbell. "When you don't have success on the scoreboard, it can be wearing on you."
Aside from Ottawa's inaugural season when the Redblacks went 2-16, Campbell has been somewhat spoiled with success. The Redblacks have made it to the Grey Cup game three of the past four years.
"This one's been harder for me," said Campbell. "In 2014, I was well aware of the situation we were in."
The Redblacks will get some help this week as veteran receiver Brad Sinopoli returns to the lineup after missing last week's loss to the Toronto Argonauts. Key returner DeVonte Dedmon, who hasn't played since Aug. 2 after suffering a hamstring injury, also is back.
Dedmon's most recent appearance also marked the Redblacks' last victory as he scored two touchdowns on spectacular returns against Montreal.
"You need times in the game where you make some big plays, some big game-changing plays that can swing the momentum in your favour and we just haven't done that part enough," Dedmon said.
Determined to get back as quickly as possible, Dedmon said this was the hardest he's ever worked.
The 23-year-old says much of the credit goes to the Redblacks' trainers, but mentioned he also worked with some of the Ottawa Senators' training staff.
"That was pretty cool to be at the Senators," Dedmon said. "There's no hockey rink back home so I would walk in there and it was a little unreal."
Running back John White returns to the lineup for the Lions after missing the last two weeks with injury.
The Lions will be looking to win back-to-back games for the first time this season.
B.C. LIONS (2-10) AT OTTAWA REDBLACKS (3-9)
Saturday, TD Place
STAND TALL: Lions quarterback Mike Reilly was sacked 43 times in the first 10 games of 2019, but just twice in the last two games.
STREAKING: B.C. receiver Bryan Burnham leads the CFL with 25 catches for second-down conversions and has a current 76-game reception streak
HOME ADVANTAGE?: Ottawa hasn't won at TD Place since Week 2 when it beat Saskatchewan 44-41.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 20, 2019.