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Ottawa Redblacks: Key Players Returning to Bolster Defense for Stretch Run

The Ottawa Redblacks have struggled with injuries to key players all year long. With a well timed bye week could we see them get healthy at the right time?

#CFL #injuryreport #OttawaRedblacks

Ottawa has been struggling with injuries for what feels like the better part of two seasons now. Currently sitting 3-8 the Redblacks have been waiting for key players to return from injury including Nate Behar, Bralon Addison, Blessman Ta’ala, and Frankie Griffin. 

As recently as last week the Redblacks had six players listed as questionable or out, and another three players that had been limited in practice at some point during the week. The injury report has been released for Monday’s practice and the prognosis is looking much better than recent weeks.

Only two players were listed as did not practice, one of which, Lorenzo Mauldin is simply dealing with an illness. The other, Jackson Bennett has been dealing with a back injury and was likely just given the day off as a precaution knowing they have time to get him healthy for Friday’s game. 

Blessman Ta’ala

In particular the defense getting Blessman Ta’ala back after a really strong start to his rookie season would be a huge benefit to this defense. Struggling to produce pressure as of late, having Ta’ala inside at defensive tackle is necessary to the success of this Ottawa defense.

Ta’ala is a space eater known for an ability to take on double team blocks and still make a play with 11 tackles for a loss, and 3 sacks in his final two seasons with Hawaii. This has been missed inside since he exited the lineup after appearing in just five games. Ta’ala has not played since July 15th against Winnipeg. 

Blessman Ta'ala

Nate Behar

Nate Behar hasn’t missed as much time as Ta’ala but he hasn’t played since August 19th. Through ten weeks Behar had been targeted 51 times catching 35 passes for 283 yards and 1 touchdown. In weeks 6 and 7 he went crazy in back-to-back games to the tune of 24 targets, 18 receptions, 165 yards and 1 touchdown. Over half his production. Since then he has been relatively quiet. Hopefully returning to full health makes a difference, and the Redblacks get back to their winning ways that Crum originally showed us. 

Nate Behar

Frankie Griffin

Frankie Griffin has dealing with lingering effects from a head injury suffered at the end of July. He had just put up an unbelievable performance racking up 11 tackles and 1 interception. Since then he hasn’t appeared in a single game. Griffin is considered a starter, and he had 40 tackles and 1 interception prior to the injury. Gaining him back could aid a pass defense that has been embarrassing to watch for a few weeks.

Last season Griffin had just begun to make an impact toward the end of the year, and he looked like he would be one of the bright spots on this defense going forward. This head injury has prevented him from really showing us what he can do in a season that already qualifies as a career year for the young man. 

Frankie Griffin
Frankie Griffin Ottawa RedBlacks 10sept2022 Photo Scott Grant

Deshawn Stevens

Also suffering from a head injury, Stevens missed almost a month before playing in last week’s game. Having appeared in just five games all year so far his presence should be a boon for this defense as well due to an ability to rush the passer. In five appearances he had 5 tackles and 1 sack on defense and added 3 special teams tackles as well. He will be able to get 100% healthy by Friday’s game and hopefully he continues to make an impact on both units. 

Deshawn Stevens

Douglas Coleman

Coleman is listed as a defensive back but he’s been seeing time as a strong side linebacker as well. Coleman is a larger defensive back who played safety briefly for the Denver Broncos. Coleman still holds a tie for most single season interceptions in Texas Tech History with 8. In 15 games with the Redblacks he has 55 tackles, 5 sacks, 2 interceptions, and 1 touchdown. Coleman had been having a career year so far with 37 tackles, 4 sacks, 2 interceptions, and 1 touchdown. He had been a big time performer this year and getting him back will be huge for this defense. 

Douglas Coleman
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Daniel Lea/CSM/Shutterstock (14026883i) Ottawa Redblacks defensive back Douglas Coleman III (35) returns an interception during the CFL game between Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Ottawa Redblacks held at TD Place Stadium in Ottawa, Canada (Credit Image: © Daniel Lea/Cal Sport Media) CFL Tiger-Cats vs Redblacks, Ottawa, USA – 28 Jul 2023

Looking Forward

This past week Ottawa also got Brandin Dandridge, Tobias Harris, Bralon Addison and Zack Pelehos back from injury. All of this depth and talent coming back for the stretch run of the season could be exactly what the doctor ordered for an often ailing Ottawa squad. With seven games left, a strong finish to this season could be enough to make a playoff push.

With divisional games coming against Toronto and Montreal some key victories would go a long way toward improving moral early and starting the momentum for a win and your in scenario to finish the season. 

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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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