Redblacks, Als look to rebound
Manziel gets another chance to redeem himself after disaster
OTTAWA — The Ottawa Redblacks and Montreal Alouettes are both coming off a week to forget.
The Redblacks were stunned by a huge second-half collapse in a 42-41 loss to the Argonauts in Week 8. The Alouettes, meanwhile, were flat-out embarrassed in quarterback Johnny Manziel’s anticipated debut, falling 50-11 to visiting Hamilton.
Both teams will be looking to rebound in a battle of the Canadian Football League East rivals Saturday at TD Place Stadium in Ottawa.
The Redblacks (4-3) saw their lead in the East standings diminish when they coughed up a 24point lead at Toronto before giving up the winning touchdown in the dying seconds of the game. Ottawa was outscored 22-3 in the fourth quarter.
“You have to move on to the next one and you’ve got to learn and correct the things you need to correct from the previous game,” Ottawa defensive coordinator Noel Thorpe said. “It’s going to sit with you, there’s no question about that. I think we got better, mentally tougher and know how our approach and our focus needs to be coming out for a second half, and I think that’s going to make us stronger here in the future.”
Montreal (1-6) is looking to bounce back from an ugly performance that saw Manziel throw four interceptions and finish 11-for-20 for 104 yards.
Montreal’s coaching staff has been questioned for giving Manziel the start with just four practices to prepare, but it appears the Alouettes are ready to stick with the former Heisman Trophy winner.
“He’s an athletic guy, runs around, can improvise and any of those quarterbacks that can use their feet and are athletic and can make plays that are off schedule, meaning not the way it was designed up, then those guys can always scare you,” Redblacks coach Rick Campbell said. “We know he’s a good player and we have to be ready for him.”
Veteran Ottawa receiver Brad Sinopoli is good to go after suffering a mild ankle injury earlier in the week. Sinopoli has been the Redblacks’ most productive receiver so far, with a leagueleading 52 receptions for 641 yards.
“I feel good, I just needed a couple days of rest and fortunately they gave them to me,” Sinopoli said. “I feel ready for the game.”
The Redblacks made a surprising change early in the week as they released defensive back Loucheiz Purifoy. Purifoy had been considered a significant off-season signing, but in the end the Redblacks felt he wasn’t a “good fit” with the organization.
“He’s a good football player, but there’s more to being a good football player than being somebody who can make plays on the field. There are other parts to that, too. You have to a be a good teammate,” general manager Marcel Desjardins told reporters.
Canadan rookie Justin Howell will make his first start at safety.
“We’ve started integrating him into the defence,” Campbell said. “We had some packages with an extra DB on the field and he’s done that the last few weeks and done a really good job for us on special teams and the game’s not too big for him.”
DL Jonathan Newsome will also return after five weeks on the six-game injured list.
After getting pulled against his old team last week in his first CFL start, Alouettes quarterback Johnny Manziel faces Ottawa on Saturday night.