OVER AND OUT: Ottawa Redblacks players hope for better days ahead


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While players from six Canadian Football League teams still cling to hopes of a chance to play for a Gray Cup championship on December 12, the Ottawa Redblacks players cleared their lockers and were doing their exit interviews with coaches and the football operations department on Sunday. inside TD Place Stadium.

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It won’t be easy to put aside the frustration and disappointment that comes with winning just three times in 14 games, but the key word on Sunday was hope. For some, hope was with the Redblacks in 2022. Chances are, several members of the 2021 Redblacks will not be back next season.

“Guys are disappointed, we should be,” said running back Timothy Flanders, who was very good (10 carries for 62 yards and four catches for 67 yards) in the 19-18 win over Ottawa versus Montreal on Friday. “We had high expectations ahead, things didn’t go the way we thought. “

Running back Timmothy Flanders attended the Ottawa Redblacks end of season press conference at TD Place on Sunday.
Running back Timmothy Flanders attended the Ottawa Redblacks end-of-season press conference at TD Place on Sunday. Photo by Ashley Fraser /Postmedia

Asked about his own performance – he bounced in and out of a starting role and finished with 385 rushing yards on 88 carries – Flanders said: I have been in the CFL. I was more worried about “Can we win the game” and “What can I do to help us win? “A lot of games that we lost, we were leading at half-time. We had to score more touchdowns when we had the chance, that’s what matters. If they want me to come back, I will come back, I will come back better. I’ve had some great conversations with (Acting GM) Jeremy (Snyder), with (Acting Assistant GM) JM (Edme) and with LaPo (Coach Paul LaPolice) so we’ll see what happens.

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It’s now two bad seasons in a row for the Redblacks, who stumbled to a 3-15 record in 2019. This follows three Gray Cup appearances (they won in 2016) in four years.

“We have to do better, we have failed again,” said veteran safety Antoine Pruneau, whose season ended a month ago when he broke his hand. “We have to win these tough games at the start of the season, we have to win at home. This is the reason why we are 3-11. We could easily have won one or two more games that could have changed the season. So I don’t think we’re as far as 2019. But it’s still unacceptable, we have to do a lot better. There are a lot of guys here who can have a big impact on this. Obviously, change will have to happen. I don’t see how we couldn’t get guys to come here in free agency. I am convinced that we can bring the few pieces that are missing, Ottawa is always a great place to play.

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Antoine Pruneau, defensive back for the Ottawa Redblacks, participated in the end-of-season media availability at TD Place on Sunday.
Antoine Pruneau, defensive back for the Ottawa Redblacks, participated in the end-of-season media availability at TD Place on Sunday. Photo by Ashley Fraser /Postmedia

Asked about the frustration with his injury, he said: “I was physically ready to participate in every training, every game, but when it comes to breaking bones, it’s more fortunate than any other. thing. Maybe I need to drink more milk.

The Redblacks have been on a wave of signings in recent weeks. Will Pruneau be the next to agree to stay in Ottawa for the 2022 season.

“We are talking right now,” he said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that I’m going to be on the football field, I think the odds are very high, it will be with the Redblacks. It is going in the right direction. I’d say it’s 80 percent (chance I’m back). I’m not going to say it’s 100% or that they are going to give me the minimum amount of money.

Asked about signing more players before the end of 2021, Snyder said, “We will continue to work to try to add players. The most important thing is that you have to identify the players who if they were to go to free agency they would cost you more than what you would like to take out of the cap (salary). The Big Four – Lewis Ward, Richie Leone, DeVonte Dedmon and Avery Williams – if they had become independent it would have been a big increase.

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Asked what needs to be fixed by 2022, Snyder said: “I don’t think he needs an overhaul. Do we need to add pieces? For sure. The beauty of the CFL is that you can get things done very quickly, especially depending on the length of contracts people sign in our league. Can we fix it? Surely it can be done. You just have a plan and you have to execute it.

And around 2021, the bad and the good?

Offensive lineman Mark Korte participated in the Ottawa Redblacks' end-of-season media availability at TD Place on Sunday, November 21, 2021.
Offensive lineman Mark Korte participated in the Ottawa Redblacks’ end-of-season media availability at TD Place on Sunday, November 21, 2021. Photo by Ashley Fraser /Postmedia

“There have been a lot of issues (in 2021), it’s pretty easy to assess,” Snyder said. “What was good was that we got to see a lot of young guys growing up and seeing where they’re going to fit in to move forward. The guys I think of – Jakub Szott, Ketel Asse, Kene Onyeka – are the kind of players who get a lot of playing time, maybe they wouldn’t in normal years.

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One of the players the Redblacks would like to bring back is offensive lineman Mark Korte. Asked about his return to Ottawa, he said: “I like to take my time to make decisions. Football seasons are inherently emotional. Having the opportunity to sit down and let things work out, I think, will be precious to me. It was really good to win the last game. In a season where you lose a lot, you sometimes forget how satisfying to win is. “

Asked about the frustrations of 2021, Korte said: “At the end of the day you still get paid to play football and you still have fun with a great group of guys who like to come to work every day and hang out together. It’s always sad when it ends. The reality of professional football is that there are guys that I see today that I might not see for a few years, some of them maybe never again.

When asked if he had any stories about Bob Wylie, the legendary Redblacks offensive line coach, Korte laughed and replied: 10 minutes. ‘ The guy on the other end of the phone said, “We don’t have meatball subs. Bob said, “You are an Italian restaurant, you have meatballs and you have bread. So I’ll see you in 15 minutes. That’s how he rides, he’s a character like that.

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