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End the old, make way for the new as the Redblacks set to roll on Sunday


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With a distracting clock in the background – with an agreement on a new collective agreement between the CFL and its players’ association that has not been reached – the Ottawa Redblacks were waiting on word if they could open a camp. full practice Sunday at TD Place.

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A CFL proposal was rejected by the CFLPA on Saturday afternoon, leaving it in doubt what will happen next. The CFL’s final offer was shared with fans and players by commissioner Randy Ambrosie. Among the highlights: partially guaranteed contracts when re-signing veterans, raising the league’s minimum wage (to $70,000 in 2023 and $75,000 in 2027), each team would have at least six Canadian players (a seventh could be either a Canadian player or a nationalized American – a non-quarterback who has been in the league for at least four years or played with the same team for three years), a starting Canadian QB would count as a National, plus 25% of revenue growth to be added to the salary cap in 2023.

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After three days of rookie camp, veterans, including many newcomers, could enter the field after being assessed for physical exams on Saturday. And, of course, they may not.

Unlike last season – with teams being very cautious due to the COVID-19 pandemic – fans are welcome at TD Place Stadium to watch practice from the North Stands (Sunday practice runs from 9:55 a.m. to 11:55 a.m.) A week of practices will lead to a fan fest next Saturday (May 21), from 10:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

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The Rouge et Noir are looking to put two disastrous seasons behind them. With three wins and 15 losses in 2019 and three wins and 11 losses in 2021 sandwiching a lost COVID season, it’s hard to imagine there’s anything else to do but climb. How do you get people to stop talking about being a bad football team? It’s simple. Win football matches.

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“I try not to look too far back, whether it’s a winning season or a losing season,” said Paul LaPolice, who is in his second season as a coach. – leader/offensive coordinator of the Rouge et Noir. “I’m just excited to be playing football again. The past is the past. The best part of our business is that every year is a brand new year. We’re all unbeaten – we haven’t lost a game and we haven’t lost a game. haven’t won a game yet either.

“What happened here last year was that a lot of players got opportunities when maybe they didn’t know the league as well or maybe weren’t as ready,” said Redblacks general manager Shawn Burke. “I’m really excited to see some of the guys come to their second training camp. Expectations will be high for them, they are no longer rookies.

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End the old, make way for the new as the Redblacks set to roll on Sunday
Ottawa Redblacks rookie camp kicked off Wednesday at TD Place in Ottawa. Keaton Bruggeling during camp. Photo by Tony Caldwell /POSTMEDIA

Boot camp is a gathering of old and new faces, trying to make them work together. It will certainly be very different from the camp of a year ago, which was postponed to July.

“The biggest difference is obviously the COVID protocols and everything,” LaPolice said. “The coaches were quarantined for seven days and we only got to see them the day before camp. Being able to spend time with the coaches was obviously a welcome change.

As for old and new, LaPolice said, “There are maybe 28 new guys here who have some CFL experience. We talked at our staff meeting that one of the most important things we need to do for these guys to understand what we want and what we think is winning football games in the Canadian Football League. We need to get this group to grow together where they want to be together and don’t want to leave the building. We need to start building those relationships as soon as possible. We want to create an environment where these guys come together as a team as quickly as possible. »

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End the old, make way for the new as the Redblacks set to roll on Sunday
Ottawa. Redblacks head coach Paul LaPolice at the Ottawa Redblacks rookie camp at TD Place in Ottawa on May 11, 2022. Photo by Tony Caldwell /POSTMEDIA

The most prominent free agent has been quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, the Eastern Division’s Most Outstanding Player of 2018. With a few injuries strewn about, he struggled with consistency at times and failed to achieve this. level of play since. But, with important signings on the offensive line and at receiver for the Rouge et Noir, this could be a stepping stone for the 33-year-old quarterback.

“We know Jeremiah has talent, we know he has tools,” LaPolice said. “We added things to our system that he was successful with in Hamilton. Now we have to determine what he does best – in his business and in ours. I have a note on my board: ‘How soon can we get Jeremiah Masoli to take control of our attack?’ Everyone said so many good things about the guy, how great he is as a teammate, how hard he works. We had great conversations. It comes as advertised.

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One thing that should elevate the quality of the squad is a much higher level of competition – there will be a sense of urgency with guys pushing each other for roster spots.

“Competition will always elevate everyone,” Burke said. “That’s one of the first words I mentioned with Coach LaPolice. The constant competition in boot camp and practice elevates you – you’re more ready to play on game day. Guys who want to be great pros, I’m sure they’ll accept this competition and stick with it. It will make everyone collectively better. It’s something we focused on during free agency. We also have good younger guys who come to push these veterans. It’s supposed to be about young people trying to take these veteran jobs and veteran players saying, “Young guy, you’re not quite ready to take my job yet.” ”

After preseason games against Toronto on May 27 (at home) and Montreal on June 3, the Redblacks will start their regular season with two games about as tough as they come – against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the two gray defensemen Champions Cup. They will be in Winnipeg on June 10 and the teams will play at TD Place on June 17.

“They immediately threw us into the fire,” LaPolice said. “We will be ready to play, we will have a game plan.

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