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Breaking Down Redblacks “Final” Roster, and Practice Roster

The Ottawa Redblacks have been hard at work reshaping this roster all offseason, and some key pieces were added along the way. Let’s take a look at who made the initial roster and break down each position group. Beginning at quarterback Ottawa has brought in high-level talent in an attempt to reverse their recent fortunes. 

Quarterback 

I will start by saying it is interesting to know that not a single quarterback has been released by the Ottawa Redblacks as of yet. This is significant because it signals that there could be a move coming down later on this season when veterans Jeremiah Masoli, and Tyrie Adams return from injury. I imagine they will start the year on the injured list to save the roster spots that they would otherwise eat up. That means we expected Ottawa will begin the regular season with Dru Brown, Dustin Crum, and Jake Dunniway as their three quarterbacks. As it stands Ottawa’s quarterbacks have only started a total of 17 professional starts. 

They could be faced with some potentially tough decisions when/if they see Masoli and Adams return. I would expect that either one of those guys returning would mean Dunniway would be released, although it would certainly make sense to keep him on the practice roster to ensure there are four players available at all times. When both return it could be very interesting how Ottawa approaches that situation having to decide how to keep Masoli, Adams, and Crum. Who becomes your practice roster QB then, OR if healthy do you attempt to trade a quarterback for future draft picks? 

Running Back

At running back the Redblacks made some bold choices in an attempt to sneak players on the roster at other positions. They chose to release Ronnie Brown and relegate Kylin Hill to the practice roster. This leaves them with only Ryquell Armstead, and Amlicar Polk with Devonte Williams there but unavailable due to injury. 

I expected Kylin Hill to make this final roster after a solid showing in the preseason. I believe we could see a scenario where Hill returns to the active roster sooner rather than later if Armstead doesn’t play better in the regular season than he did in preseason. Armstead averaged less than 3 yards per carry in both games, while Hill consistently was over 5 yards per carry. Armstead and Polk had the advantage in this battle with both players having spent time on the team in 2023. At that time Hill was not on any roster and he is still adapting to the CFL rule set. I am excited to see the role Amlicar Polk plays in 2025 after a stellar U-Sports season in 2023. 

Fullback

The Redblacks chose to keep the status quo at fullback happy with the players they have on the roster. Marco Dubois and Anthony Gosselin are consistent performers that can be counted on every season. Gosselin has played on nearly every special teams unit while adding another pass catcher for the offense. After five seasons with Ottawa, he has collected 18 total tackles, 16 on special teams, 3 kick returns for 23 yards, 1 carry for 4 yards, and 15 catches on 20 targets for 104 yards. 

Dubois has also been in Ottawa for five seasons playing most if not all special teams units. He has 21 tackles 20 of which came on special teams. He’s the more productive of the two players in the receiving department with 25 targets he’s managed to produce 18 receptions for 239 yards and 1 touchdown. He’s added 1 carry for 1 yard. I was intrigued by what Russell Dixon brings to the table as well but it appears he will now end up pursuing his eligibility in U-Sports attempting to come back next season more prepared to win a roster spot, much like Amlicar Polk managed to do in 2024. 

Wide Receiver/SlotBack

At wide receiver we watched the Redblacks release Jon’Vea Johnson, Andre Miller, Ryan McDaniel, Jahquan Bloomfield, and Daniel Perry. They also moved Eli Stove to the practice roster. 

This leaves a total of nine wideouts on the active roster with the same top six we have discussed here many times:

Jaelon Acklin

Justin Hardy

Bralon Addison

Dominique Rhymes

Nick Gardner

Devonte Dedmon

The three depth players behind this group of near-locks faced stiff competition to find their way onto the roster. 

2022 3rd round pick Keaton Bruggeling

2023 2nd round pick Daniel Oladejo

Former NFL Practice Squad Player Kalil Pimpleton

This is a deep group that is very talented offering many different skill sets allowing coaches to get very creative with their lineups, including on special teams. 

Offensive Line 

Some of the moves on the offensive line in hindsight seem fairly obvious. Drake Centers, Eric Starczala, Hector Zepeda, and Isaac Moore transition to the practice squad. They opted to release Austin Myers, Samuel Jackson, and Cooper Hamilton. Hamilton was a long shot to make the team after joining late in the process. 

Both American players who were penciled in as depth behind Dino Boyd at left tackle are no longer on the active roster. As it stands only Dontae Bull, and Jacob Ruby, remain as depth. That’s a fairly scary proposition heading into week one knowing that three injuries in one game could spell disaster. 

Dontae Bull has starting experience playing both left and right tackle and should be a decent swing tackle for Ottawa in 2024. Jacob Ruby is essentially the swing guard and could potentially be the top backup at the center if the injury were to occur. 

On the other side of the trenches: 

Defensive Line

The team has chosen to move on from Carson Taylor, Alexander Fedchun, Gerald Willis III, and Divine Obichere after the second preseason game. The biggest surprise here is that they didn’t keep a single defensive lineman on the practice roster, I had expected Fedchun to end up on the practice roster to continue developing. 

At defensive tackle, it was more or less a foregone conclusion, that certain players would make the roster. Michael Wakefield, Cleyon Laing, and Blessman Ta’ala would have had to try and manufacture reasons for Ottawa to move on from them all three are no-nonsense, steady players who just grab their lunch pail and go to work. 

Returning at the defensive end are Lorenzo Mauldin IV, Bryce Carter, Nigel Rommick, and Kene Onyeka. Onyeka has developed into a very valuable performer for Ottawa since being selected in the draft. His value isn’t based on him playing any one specific role, but more based on the fact that he can contribute as a designated pass, rusher, or on special teams as well. Last season alone, he collected 15 special teams tackles while also managing three sacks.

They also opted to keep Aidan John and DeShawn Stevens on the roster. He could be the main reason we don’t see any players on the practice roster. 

After the dust settled on final cuts the Redblacks opted to sign defensive lineman Tj Rayam to the practice roster. Rayam is a defensive tackle who previously spent the last two seasons with Calgary. Playing in 21 games for the Stampeders he collected 20 tackles and 3 sacks. At just 26 years old this is a solid addition to the practice roster and a guy who could prove to be a crucial addition if Ottawa has any injuries on the interior of their line. 

Linebacker

Ottawa’s linebacker group added some interesting young players this offseason, and at least two of them will get a chance to continue developing as Heston Lameta and Zachary Philion were transferred to the practice squad. Dawson Pierre and Bennett Williams hybrid DB/LBs are also on the practice squad. The team released American Kaleb Oliver. This leaves them with an interesting mix of CFL veterans and intriguing new players on the active roster…with a heavy emphasis on special teams. 

Frankie Griffin, Jovan Santos-Knox, Gary Johnson, Tyron Vrede, and the younger James Peter return for 2024. It appears the first two off the bench are Santos-Knox in the middle, and Griffin at weakside. Ardarius Pickett had the strong locked down the minute he signed with Ottawa. There’s a unique advantage they have on the roster and that’s Davion Taylor. Taylor has unbelievable speed in a true linebacker body type and could realistically play all three linebacker positions and could be your top backup. 

Also coming in is Silas Stewart who has primarily been a special teams player for Calgary to this point. I mentioned a focus on special teams, and it’s across the board. Frankie Griffin worked his way up to a starting role after playing a lot more on special teams during his rookie season. Gary Johnson has primarily been a special teams player so far producing 8 tackles and 1 forced fumble last season. 

James Peter is attempting to follow in Griffin’s 

footsteps to a role as a future starter. Another player who proved his worth on special teams was Tyron Vrede who has developed into a valuable depth piece who saw a good amount of playing time last season. He could be a key backup if Ottawa continues to suffer injury issues. 

Secondary

There was a lot of last-second movement in the secondary as the Redblacks found their final roster. This included releasing five defensive backs, and moving two more to the practice roster, five if you want to count Bennett Williams who had been penciled in as the backup strong-side linebacker, and Dawson Pierre who is transitioning to linebacker in the CFL. 

The five men released were: 

American Abu Daramy-Swaray 

American Jaylon McClain-Sapp

American Tywan Francis

American Dishon McNary

American Jordan Jones

As expected Brandin Dandridge, Monshadrik Hunter, DeAndre Lamont, Alonzo Addae, Ty Cranston, Justin Howell, and Damon Webb all return as the veterans in this group. Talented young players Tobias Harris who logged an interception for a touchdown in week two of the preseason, and Alijah McGhee produced 6 tackles and a forced fumble in just 2 appearances last year. Both players appear poised for large roles in 2024, as they were labeled starters for the final preseason game this past weekend. Harris at halfback, and McGhee at outside corner. 

On the practice roster, the team opted to keep Yani Gouadfel, and Adrian Frye will stick with the team and look to acclimate to the CFL style of play. Both men can play as a halfback or as a safety making them valuable additions to the practice squad. Gouadfel could be one of the more oddly valuable practice roster players as in a pinch he could serve as a punter to take some reps off of Richie Leone if needed. While this isn’t desired, it’s certainly a skill set the Redblacks are aware of. 

Specialists

For the sixth straight CFL season, the Redblacks will feature the same kicker and punter. Dating back to 2018 Lewis Ward and Richie Leone have been Redblacks running mates. They have formed a dynamic duo in the special teams department. 

Since joining the Redblacks following a two year stint with BC, and a year away from the CFL, Richie Leone has played in 86 games for Ottawa punting 591 times for 22,865 yards a net average of 38.6 yards per punt. Gross yards he has averaged 47.06 yards per punt. He has been the model of consistency producing 46.3 yards or more per punt in every season with Ottawa. Leone also could fill in as a kicker if needed. He served as a kicker/punter with BC for his first two seasons and has over 200 points scored in the kicking game. The team chose to bring in Michael Domagala last season when Ward was injured. 

Lewis Ward is seven years removed from going unselected in the 2017 CFL Draft and returning to school. He would end up finding a home in Ottawa in 2018. He went on to play in every game until his injury in 2023 caused him to miss five games. Last season before injury he was 100%, on conversion attempts for only the second time in his career. He converted 34 of 40 field goals for a respectable 85% conversion rate. He also made the second longest kick of his career at 54 yards. Ward has not converted less than 83.3% of his attempts in any single season. He managed a near-perfect rookie season converting 51 of 52 field goals with 16 of 19 conversion attempts. 

The one piece of this equation that will not be the same is Longsnapper. Simon Chaves was released in favor of Peter Adjey who came over via trade with Edmonton earlier this offseason. Chaves is one of the few long snappers that moonlight as a defensive back. At 5’11 200 pounds he was one of the smallest long snappers in the league. Adjey stands 6’3 230 pounds. The Redblacks gave up a 2025 third round pick to acquire Adjey so the writing was on the wall for Chaves. It remains to be seen if that trade pays dividends. 

With a bye week in week one, I anticipate seeing at least one more transaction by their first game although it would require a corresponding move given that the Redblacks are at the 46-man limit. 

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Sam Just Reporter
I am a writer and content creator focusing on alternative football leagues like the UFL, CFL, AFL, IFL, NAL, and AIF. If you like alternative football leagues, check out my personal platform Shady Sports Network on YouTube and all your favorite social media platforms.
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