Redblacks preview: Key additions/subtractions, players to watch, biggest storylines of 2023 season
Coach: Bob Dyce
GM: Shawn Burke
2022 Record: 4-14
Opening game: June 10 @ Montreal Alouettes
Finishing in last place in the East Division last season with a 4-14 record and the late-season firing of head coach Paul LaPolice, Bob Dyce takes over and looks to usher in a new era of Ottawa Redblacks football and get back to the success they found in the mid 2010s.
Dyce was named the third coach in Redblacks history in December of 2022. A former special teams coordinator since 2016, Dyce assumed the head-coaching duties for the final three weeks of the season.
Previously, the Winnipeg native spent five years on the Saskatchewan Roughriders staff in various roles, including offensive coordinator (2012), special teams coordinator (2013-2015), and interim head coach (2015). Dyce was a member of the Grey Cup-winning Roughriders team in 2013.
Notable additions to Dyce’s staff include former Montreal Alouettes head coach Khari Jones – who was fired mid-season and replaced by current Alouettes general manager Danny Maciocia – and Barron Miles, who spent the 2022 season as the defensive coordinator for the Bishop’s University Gaiters.
Key additions and subtractions
With former Hamilton Tiger-Cats general manager Shawn Burke entering his second season as the architect of the Redblacks, the connection to his former club spawned a litany of roster moves the past two off-seasons.
Starting with the signing of former Ticats linebacker Javon Santos-Knox, Burke added another familiar face in wide receivers Lemar Durant and Bralon Addison, who join forces with 2022 addition Jaelon Acklin.
At the running back position, former Calgary Stampeder Ante Milanovic-Litre enters the fold to join former Tiger-Cats quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, who missed significant time last season with a fractured leg due to a tackle from Roughriders’ Garrett Marino.
Coming back this season are QB Nick Arbuckle, Canadian WR Nate Behar, and former Ticat in 2021 RB Jackson Bennett.
The biggest additions to the 2023 Redblacks are names that made an impact last season including returner/wide receiver DeVonte Dedmon and defensive lineman Lorenzo Mauldin.
Dedmon, 27, returned to the CFL mid-season last year after a stint with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins. A League All-Star and recipient of the CFL’s Most Outstanding Special Teams Player Award in 2021, Dedmon amassed 1,960 return yards and three touchdowns that season. Dedmon signed a two-year deal.
The 30-year-old Mauldin is coming off a CFL Most Outstanding Defensive Player-winning season for his league-leading 17 sacks.
The Redblacks enter the 2023 season having already been bit by the injury bug as they announced on May 28 that defensive back Monshadrik 'Money' Hunter suffered a torn pectoral muscle in a team scrimmage and is likely to miss months of the 2023 season, while free-agent signing wide receiver Shaq Evans suffered a broken finger.
Dyce announced on June 6 that Masoli would miss the first two weeks of the season. Nick Arbuckle, who re-signed with the Redblacks in the off-season, took first-team reps ahead of their season-opening game against the Alouettes.
Player to watch
After duelling with Dane Evans for the starting job under centre in Hamilton, Masoli’s chance to lead the Redblacks’ offence and be ‘the guy’ was cut short last season.
Entering 2023, the former Ole Miss pivot has the reins to the offence again as he looks to get back to his form that helped the Ticats reach back-to-back Grey Cup games in 2019 and 2021.
An accomplished passer, having thrown for a league second-best 5,209 yards and 28 touchdowns in 2018, earning himself East Division All-Star and the East Division’s Most Outstanding Player honours, Masoli’s familiar weapons and talented roster are sure to take a step forward this season.
“It’s impossible to get past the health status of quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, who didn’t play in the pre-season and wasn’t ready to take first-team reps until the second week of camp. The loss to injury of receiver Shaq Evans hurts and heightens the need for one of Ottawa’s import rookies to step up. The Redblacks chose not to blow up the roster after last season’s 4-14 campaign. And while this year’s team should be better, how much so will depend on Masoli.” – TSN Football Insider Dave Naylor
“The Redblacks faithful fan base has been waiting for a victory on home turf since Sep of 2021 and they won’t be patient much longer. But they might have to be patient with quarterback Jeremiah Masoli. He’s still recovering from last year’s season ending injury at the hands of Garrett Marino and I doubt he’ll start for the season opener. The big question is how will Nick Arbuckle fare as his backup and can he fill the QB1 shoes if needed? On defense, there are some hungry young defensive backs looking to prove themselves. If Lorenzo Mauldin can keep up the pace of his Ottawa record-setting 14 sacks from 2022 up, this is a defense teams should fear.” – TSN’s Claire Hanna
Week 2 – Milanovic-Litre duels with Ka’Deem Carey as the Redblacks host the Stampeders.
Week 5 – Masoli and the Redblacks head to Tim Hortons Field as the former Ticats slinger takes on his former squad.
Week 10 – The Redblacks head to Toronto to tangle with the defending Grey Cup champions.
Week 15 - Masoli meets his Evans as the Redblacks head to BC to take on the Lions.
Week 18 – The Redblacks and Alouettes meet for a matinee matchup on Thanksgiving Day.