The Ottawa Redblacks facing depth concerns have made a series of moves to free up space for the return of Brandin Dandridge. They have also freed up two roster spots. Is this in anticipation of more players returning to the field? The Redblacks have made the following moves;
Ottawa Lets Familiar Faces Go, Awaiting Return of Brandin Dandridge
Eric Starczala who has been on and off the active roster, and practice squad now finds himself a free agent once again. The guard was just re-signed two weeks ago, and immediately elevated to the active roster. Something tells me this isn’t the last time we see Starczala on the transaction wire for the Redblacks.
Defensive Back Daniel Valente is another player who has been on and off the Redblacks roster. He was originally selected in the 4th round of the 2022 CFL Draft. He was signed by Ottawa in December of 2022. He would be released of June 2023 after training camp having never logged a statistic for the Redblacks. The national DB should get another call before the season is up. Ottawa has shown a tendency to keep certain players waiting in the wings. Valente and Starczala are just two examples.
Three Players Moved To Practice Squad
In recent weeks the Redblacks have brought back several players from injury including Ante Milanovic-Litre, Devonte Williams, and now Jackson Bennett. You also have to weight the impact of Tyrell Pigrome in that equation.
This alongside the move to Tobias Harris, who by the way remains on the active roster, as your primary return man further diluted the value of Tuggle on the active roster. Due to this the Redblacks have shifted him back to the practice squad to keep him as their “in case of emergency” back.
Speaking of Tobias Harris, he is the player who is essentially taking the roster spot of DeAndre Lamont as well. Lamont is a rookie this season, primarily playing safety, Lamont was deemed expendable enough to move back to the practice squad allowing him to continue developing. While Harris might be taking some of the reps Lamont would have received this isn’t a one for one replacement given that Harris primarily plays cornerback. I have a hard time believing this is the last we see of Lamont on the active roster.
Tre Hornbuckle is a former Indoor Football League player having spent time with the Spokane Shock. Originally graduating from Duke, Hornbuckle was overlooked coming out of college despite producing 19 tackles for a loss and 6 sacks as a rotational defensive end with the Blue Devils. Now he has been with Ottawa for multiple seasons working toward a larger role on defense. This may seem like a step back but it should mean a lot to Hornbuckle that they want him to stick around after observing his development since the 2021 season.
The Biggest News of the Day; Brandin Dandridge Returns
Brandin Dandridge returns to the active roster after a short stint on the injured list. Dandridge has proven to be the top cornerback, and an explosive return man scoring multiple times so far this season and helping clinch victory in more than one game. I expect they will take their time working him back in the lineup, even if the Redblacks are quickly losing ground in the playoff race. Dandridge is one of the best players on the team, and the Redblacks know they can’t risk his long term health for one potentially lost season.
One thing is fairly certain as of right now, the Redblacks will likely not risk another injury by allowing Brandin Dandridge to handle return duties once again. Tobias Harris remains on the roster, and has viability as an explosive return man, AND at defensive back where in college he proved to be a ball-hawk. Allowing the young man to continue developing on the active roster due to his special teams acumen is a win-win for Ottawa, Harris, and Dandridge.
With two more roster spots opened up I expect to see more key contributors returning to the line up soon. These roster spots weren’t opened up by accident, and if I had to guess Addison, and Umankwe would be the two players coming back. Addison was a full participant in practice on Wednesday and Thursday but limited last Friday. Umankwe was limited early in the week but a full participant last Friday.
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