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Redblacks Continue to Shuffle the Deck, Bring in 3 New Faces, Ink Rookie Draft Pick 

The Ottawa Redblacks have attacked this offseason with a new sense of urgency that they haven’t shown the last two years. This year it has felt like Ottawa, and the powers that be understand where they stand, and that if the losing continues, their footing won’t remain steady for long. 

This has resulted in a near complete overhaul of the roster, with only key players returning to the Redblacks for the 2024 season, and many players once relied on as role players and even starters are gone looking for their next opportunity. With the draft now in the rearview, Ottawa can turn their focus to the few weaknesses left before rookie camp this weekend. 

Running Back Depth Incoming 

The Redblacks announced earlier this offseason their incumbent running back injured his Achilles and was forced to have surgery about a month ago now. Chances are this will remove him from the 2024 season, leaving a gaping hole at running back. I was a strong proponent of drafting Michael Chris-Ike who could have served as this year’s RB1, and worked in tandem with Williams in the future hopefully preventing either from suffering injury from being overworked. 

Instead, Ottawa passed on selecting a running back and left the drafts with multiple wide receivers, linebackers, defensive backs, and a punter. This left them to sift through the market to find depth at the position, and it appears they have unearthed a gem. 

Tj Hammonds 

Hammonds stands 5’10 195 pounds, he looks and plays similarly to Devonte Williams who was lost to injury. Playing for Arkansas for six seasons, he appeared in 50 games primarily as a depth piece. He produced 97 touches for 841 yards and 4 touchdowns. This amounted to an average of 8.67 yards per touch. He also displayed sure hands, fumbling just two times, losing only one. 

He nearly stuck with another CFL team in 2022 as he was signed by Winnipeg to compete for a roster spot in his rookie season. He was transferred to the suspended list just days later and never suited up for the Blue Bombers. 

In 2023 he was drafted in round two by the Seattle Sea Dragons to play in a spread offense that was NOT predicated on the running game. Hammonds still managed to find success and finished the season amongst the league leaders. 

He finished 14th in total rushing yards but third in the league with 5.22 yards per carry, and tops among running backs. He now will head to an offense that caters to his skill set and will look to spread teams out with a talented wide receiver room allowing him to find creases in the defense. Williams was able to rush for over 1,000 yards last season as the top back for Ottawa, and it wouldn’t shock me to see Hammonds fill this role himself or share carries on his way to a career year. 

Jared Chisari 

Chisari is a national player who attended college in the US with the University of Massachusetts for a couple of seasons before finishing his career, setting program records in Canada with Queen’s University. The Outstanding Performer of the Year award winner managed an impressive 1,379 rushing yards, on just 186 attempts, 7.41 yards per carry, although he didn’t do much damage in the passing game. 

He would go on to put up numbers that may have hurt his case to get drafted but found interest after the draft from Ottawa. Running a 4.71 certainly didn’t help, but running a 7.07 3-cone drill and a 4.41 short shuttle might have. Given the way his career progressed he only really had an opportunity to start for one season before graduating which could have opened up questions about being able to duplicate his performance. For what it’s worth, after watching him play, my doubts have disappeared. 

More Depth at Wide Receiver

The Redblacks have signed what feels like every wide out on the open market at this point, but they aren’t done yet. They announced the addition of Ryan McDaniel, most recently with the Memphis Showboats of the UFL. 

McDaniel attended Tulsa for one year before transferring to North Carolina Central University. During his collegiate career he not only proved to be a capable wideout, but he also showed he can be a valuable asset on special teams graduating with 20 total tackles. He also blocked 1 kick, and returned 8 kicks for 122 yards. 

It took a while for McDaniel to find his role on offense but by his final season, he had raved out a large portion of the target share in 2021. He would go from ten total touches in 2019 to 60 in 2021. He produced 755 total yards, and 4 touchdowns as a senior before declaring for the 2022 NFL Draft. He would attend minicamp with two teams before signing with the Jaguars for training camp. He ultimately was let go, and turned up in Memphis for the 2023 season. 

While in the USFL, he was targeted 34 times catching 18 passes for 224 yards. He added 24 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns. He was not asked to contribute on special teams but I expect this to be what helps him make the team in Ottawa. At 25 years old, the 6’2 wideout brings value in multiple ways, it’s just a matter of getting him on the field. 

Heston Lameta 

The Redblacks have officially signed their second-round pick from the Global Draft. If you would like to learn more about him check out our draft breakdown here

Cutting Bait

The Redblacks have released receiver Maurice Ffrench, and defensive lineman Vandarius Cowan to open up roster spots. Both players were facing an uphill battle to make the roster in 2024. 

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@SamShadySports 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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