Ottawa Redblacks management and coaching staff liked what they saw from training camp, but are excited to see what their players can do in action.
After two weeks of training camp, Bob Dyce and the Ottawa Redblacks are ready to put the plan into action.
The Rouge et Noir hosts the Montreal Alouettes on Friday night in the first of two preseason games. Ottawa will play its second game on June 1 against the Toronto Argonauts in Guelph, ON.
Dyce was named interim head coach last October following the departure of Paul LaPolice. The 57-year-old has been with the organization since 2016 but this will be his first appearance on the sidelines since being appointed on a permanent basis last December.
From the start, Dyce and his team have worked to create a competitive and hard-working squad and seeing the game plan put into action will be a welcome sight.
There are still battles to be won and while some players will get more reps than others, Dyce said it’s up to each player to make the most of their opportunity.
Although pre-season games can be played at a different level of intensity, Dyce said he still sees this as a key opportunity to assess talent and give fans an idea of what they can do. expect this season.
“I’m thrilled to see these guys compete in front of their home fans for the first time,” Dyce said. “It’s our first chance to show the identity of the Redblacks 2023 squad, so we’ve talked about making sure we’re quick, physical and dominant.”
Although the goal is always to win, Dyce said he won’t put the starters back in a game to ensure they get a win at the end of the preseason.
There is strong competition at free safety as well as tackle and defense and those two games could determine who takes those starting roles, he added.
The Redblacks also have some depth at wide receiver, but plays don’t always present as many opportunities and so Dyce says everything is considered.
“There are a lot of things that you assess other than the number of times they get the ball in their hand,” Dyce said. “That’s why it’s a constant process of rating and evaluation. Evaluate how they are in a meeting, you evaluate how they are on the training ground, even the little things like walking through.
Unsurprisingly, starting quarterback Jeremiah Masoli will sit out Friday’s game as the Reds and Blacks continue to be cautious in their approach following his season-ending leg injury last year at the fifth week.
Nick Arbuckle, who signed a one-year off-season extension, will start the game while Tyrie Adams and Dustin Crum will also get playing time.
While Arbuckle could have looked for an opportunity elsewhere, he and his wife made the decision to stay in Ottawa for personal and professional reasons.
“We absolutely loved the city,” Arbuckle said. “Another big role was Coach Dyce and (Shawn) Burke and the staff they put together in December. There was a lot of confidence in what we’re building here and what was to come, even back then.
Arbuckle says the energy of the culture Dyce is trying to create is palpable and the group of players that have been assembled leave everyone excited and energized.
“It’s a really fun group,” he said. “I think the talent is unquestionable, you see it from top to bottom.”
The first test of the season comes on Friday night as the Redblacks also look to shake off their losing record at TD Place. Ottawa was 0-9 at home last season and 1-23 since June 2019.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on May 25, 2023.