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Interesting Position Battles to Watch for Ottawa on Friday Night 

The Ottawa Redblacks are headed into their second and final preseason game for the 2024 season. Coming off a big win in week one we saw several young players step up and perform in a big manner. With many roster battles still being decided, this final game against Montreal will prove to be crucial to setting the “final” roster, including the practice roster. 

Let’s take a look at some of the important position battles still left to be decided. 


At this point, we know Dru Brown will start this season but with Jeremiah Masoli not yet ready to return, questions still abound about where Tyrie Adams is at in his recovery and where he stands in this battle. So far this season it’s been the Dustin Crum and Jake Dunniway show, and this may end up the week one depth chart behind Brown. 

So far it appears as if Ottawa is content heading into the season with Crum as their top backup after giving him the majority of the snaps against Hamilton. He looked solid in his time on the field finishing 10 of 15 for 108 yards, 1 touchdown, and no Interceptions adding 4 carries for 27 yards and 1 touchdown. This was one of his better performances but let’s not forget as the game wore on more and more second and third-string players were given snaps. 

The question with Crum has at times been ball placement and decision making. Last season he was not able to top 10 passing touchdowns last year despite 385 passing attempts. If he can show he has improved in these areas again in week two it will go a long way toward deciding if he will remain QB2. The big question: Can Crum repeat this performance against a starting defense when it matters in 2024? 

I am also curious to see who they look to for the short yardage role. I could see this being Crum’s job to lose 

Running Back

The Devonte Williams injury is concerning, to say the least. Losing one of if not your best offensive players early in camp is never easy to overcome. That’s what makes this competition at running back so key to the success of the Redblacks in 2024. 

Ryquell Armstead led the team in carries, with 7 but managed just 18 yards, 2.6 yards per carry. He did find the end zone once and catch two passes for 15 yards. He has spent the most time with Ottawa of any back on the roster this season, but that experience only goes so far when you change offensive play callers during that stretch. 

Kylin Hill saw the least carries of the three backs but produced the most yards thanks to a 14 yard run. He finished with 5 carries for 33 yards but didn’t find the end zone. He also caught one pass for 9 yards. I liked what I saw out of Hill, he looked explosive when he hit the hole, he was shifty when needed, and got some tough yards along the way. He could be the most likely starter if Armstead fails to produce in week two. 

Ronnie Brown was just behind Hill in yardage having taken 6 carries for 31 yards with a long of 12 yards on the day. He was not utilized as a receiver in week one. Brown did some good things in this game and I believe he deserves more looks in week two. He can help his case by averaging over 5 yards per carry again in week two. Brown should get some more snaps in my opinion, but we shall see how Ottawa chooses to divvy up repetitions. 

Amlicar Polk is listed as the third running back on the depth chart for week 2. After being drafted in 2023, Polk returned to school for one more year after participating in training camp last season. He went on to have a career year for the Gee Gees putting up 116 carries for 824 yards and 7 touchdowns in just 7 games. He averaged over 117 rushing yards per game. He added career highs in receptions and yards with 8 for 43 yards. He also had 1 tackle. Polk is a very valuable special teams performer, he had 24 tackles, 1 for a loss, 3 forced fumbles, 1 recovery, and 1 blocked kick. Showing he can be a big piece of the Gee-Gees offense last season will only help him make a case to stick this year. 

Wide Receiver 

This might be one of the most interesting positions on the roster for a couple of reasons. First of all the depth might be the best in the league when you consider Jaelon Acklin, Justin Hardy, Bralon Addison, Dominique Rhymes, Devonte Dedmon, and first-round pick Nick Mardner as their top six wideouts. 

Update: Jaelon Acklin has been ruled out for precautionary reasons. 

Jon’vea Johnson has had a bizarre career. Signed to seemingly every well-known outdoor football league at some point he has never really gotten a chance to see the field during the regular season. He has been let go by teams before final cuts several times. This might be the year that changes for Johnson. In week one he led the team in targets, receptions, yardage, and touchdowns catching 5 of 7 passes for 54 yards and 1 touchdown. However, it appears he will need to beat out Kalil Pimpleton who has upside as a return man. 

Pimpleton is an interesting fit on this roster. He has slowly made an impression by doing a little bit of everything. In week one he caught both his targets for 18 yards while adding 1 punt return for 4 yards, and 1 kick return for 28 yards. Pimpleton and Johnson are very similar players, so a special team upside might be all it takes to have the edge. Johnson has some return ability to the Redblacks just haven’t attempted to use him there yet. Pimpleton is listed as the second-team return man ahead of Tobias Harris who is starting at halfback. 

Opposite Jaelon Acklin at wide receiver, Nick Mardner gets the start with Keaton Bruggeling second string, with Jahquan Bloomfield as the third string. Bruggeling caught both of his targets for 23 yards and is entering his third season with Ottawa since being a 3rd round pick, year three is typically considered a turning point for wideouts. Bloomfield didn’t see any targets last week and has an uphill battle to see targets this week as well. He could be one of many receivers to be let go in final cuts unless he quickly makes an impression. 

Ryan McDaniel is listed as the top backup to Dominique Rhymes even after seeing two targets last week without making a catch. McDaniel is another former USFL player trying to make a go of it in the CFL. At 6’2 212 pounds, he still has a chance of making this roster, and I expect we see a lot of him in week two. 

Eli Stove was targeted twice in week one catching 1 pass for 4 yards. He is penciled in as the second-string slotback behind Justin Hardy, I could see the team giving him a lot of snaps this week if they truly believe Stove can fill a similar role to Hardy if called upon later this season. Stove adds value playing every unit of special teams, he can also return punts and kicks, or run the ball when called upon. This versatility won’t hurt his chances of making it over other more one-dimensional receivers. 

Having cut Dillon Stoner, and Andre Miller earlier this week there is an opening for a couple of players to see more snaps this week, namely younger players like Daniel Oladejo, and Daniel Perry. The Redblacks thought enough of Oladejo to make him the 17th overall pick in 2023, they even activated him for week 21 when he caught his first pass with the Redblacks and his 64th since entering college with the Gee-Gees. 

Daniel Perry was a very productive wideout for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies before the Redblacks selected him in the 5th round. Catching 140 passes for 2,223 yards and 11 touchdowns. He added 48 touches for 442 yards and 1 touchdown. All of this came while appearing in 47 games over five seasons. Meaning he averaged 56.7 yards per game for his entire career with the Huskies. Certainly worth taking a flyer on and trying to develop him into the future at the position. If I had to guess we will see Perry on the opening-day practice roster at the worst. 

Right Tackle

The Redblacks constructed their roster in an interesting manner where all their Americans play on the left side of the line primarily at left tackle. However, across the line, the rest are nationals. The most intriguing position has to be right tackle. 

Zachary Pelehos was the second overall pick in the 2022 CFL Draft, while Dontae Bull was the first overall pick in the 2023 CFL Draft. Both are very talented players but neither have taken hold of the position to this point as they were rotated last year as starters. Whoever can cement themselves as the starter here could be doing the team an immense favor. 

I could see a scenario where if one of these players separated themselves the other could start seeing snaps at left tackle and/or guard to maximize their immediate value as a backup while potentially developing them as the future at another position. There is still tremendous value in developing one of these young players into a swing tackle to carry one less American. 


On the defensive line, the Redblacks will need to make some interesting choices. Currently, they are very heavy on the defensive end with only five tackles and six ends. 

If I had to guess I think Carson Taylor makes the active roster as the top backup behind Mauldin IV, and Carter. Nigel Romick feels like a lock every season primarily due to his work on special teams 107 special teams tackles in 118 career games so far. Alexander Fedchun is a candidate for the back end of the active roster or practice squad as he continues to develop. They will have to decide whether they want to keep Aidan John who can play a bit inside, or Fedchun a pure edge. 


The only linebacker position that seems to be settled is the strongside linebacker position. With only two players currently listed there there isn’t much competition left to figure out. That is not the case at weakside or middle linebacker. There are still ten players fighting for what could be as little as four active roster spots. 

If ever there was a position we could see some surprise cuts its linebacker. Veterans Gary Johnson and Silas Stewart could be in danger if the depth chart is any indication. Johnson is currently listed fourth out of five weakside ‘backers while Stewart is your third middle linebacker. Both of these players have built careers from special teams, but the fact is special teams’ value only goes so far if you’re competing with younger, cheaper, similarly skilled players. 


In this game, we should finally get more answers about the secondary. As of right now, this is one of the deepest positions on the roster, even with all the off-season turnover that we have witnessed. There are still 16 defensive backs on the roster as it stands right now, including Brandin Dandridge who is currently on the injury list. Adrian Frye and Justin Howell have both been made inactive for this game as well. They have 13 players active for this game. 

I like seeing younger players who were given playing time late last year getting an opportunity to build on that by getting the start in week 2. Tobias Harris and Alijah McGhee are in a position to earn some early playing time if they play well against Montreal. Dishon McNary should see quite a bit of playing time this game as the sole backup to Monshadrik Hunter who I don’t expect to play much in this game after coming off a season in 2023 where they saw him miss the beginning of the year due to an injury in late May. I assume Ottawa will want to avoid this with Hunter again. 

After all the turnover this offseason, we could see a situation where only two to three new faces stick on the roster. Frye, McNary, and McClain-Sapp all have a decent chance at being that guy for Ottawa this season I am leaning toward Frye and McNary. 

Final Thoughts

Going against Montreal in week two is a blessing for Ottawa It needs a quality test for their first team players in their final dress rehearsal before being thrown into the fire for the first game of the season. 

Montreal didn’t win the Grey Cup last season by accident, their success should be sustainable moving forward, in part due to their last few draft classes that have begun to take on larger roles. A perfect example is Tyson Philpot catching the game winning touchdown in the Grey Cup last season. His 6th reception on the day resulted in his first touchdown of the game and the title of Grey Cup Most Valuable Canadian. 

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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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