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Matt Dunigan

TSN CFL Analyst


Last year the Ottawa RedBlacks signed Henry Burris (Temple) to come in and lead their offence, jettisoning Kevin Glenn off into the abyss in the process. Henry's infectious character and leadership skills were never in doubt in the inaugural 2-16 season, but the 15-year veteran was faced with a difficult dynamic behind the scenes that led to some underwhelming performances on the field.

Head Coach Rick Campbell addressed those circumstances in the offseason and brought in Jason Maas as new offensive coordinator and Bryan Chiu as the new offensive line coach. With Maas and Chiu now in the fold, the communication of game plans from week to week will be done as they should be.

You see, last year’s OC/OL coach Mike Gibson, who was shown the door this offseason, did not meet with his QBs at all during the season! Just try to wrap your head around that for a minute. I've never heard of such a thing! I was blown away when I heard this and it certainly helped me understand the disconnect I saw on the offensive side of the football for the RedBlacks.

With that said, the Redblacks needed more fire power offensively for the gunslinger Burris to play pitch and catch with and they went out and got some! They signed acquired Maurice Price from Calgary, signed Greg Ellingson (Ham), Ernest Jackson (BC), and Brad Sinopoli (Cgy) as free agents, and drafted Jake Harty (University of Calgary). And if that's not impressive enough, they also landed Chris fricken’ Williams fresh from the NFL.

Williams was one of the most electrifying players in the CFL just a few years back before he took a shot in that other league. You couple these new faces with holdovers Khalil Paden, Marcus Henry, Scott Macdonell, and Matt Carter, and you have a bevy of talent with depth. I fully expect Smilin’ Hank to have an even bigger smile than usual this year as he walks into the huddle with that array of talent at his disposal. I know I would!

The Redblacks don't have much experience behind their star QB. Thomas DeMarco (fourth year, Old Dominion) looks to bounce back after having ACL surgery last year. DeMarco has the most experience of the backups, attempting 222 passes.

Danny O'Brien (second year, Catawba) has thrown just 55 passes in his CFL career thus far and from there it gets really green with rookie, Brock Jensen (North Dakota State) and Derek Wendel getting an opportunity via the QBIP (Quarterback Internship Program) established in 2010 by the CFL. This allows for Canadian QBs to participate in training camps across the league to gain valuable experience and develop their skill set without counting as a player on the roster.

All in all I can say, major upgrades in Ottawa and I can't wait to see Henry bounce back in year 16.