The football gods giveth, and the football gods taketh.
In 2015 the Ottawa Redblacks managed (for the most part) to avoid any serious injuries to starting players. In fact, they even achieved the nearly impossible feat of starting the exact same five players along the offensive line for every single game last season.
But whatever injury luck Ottawa may have had last year is currently nothing but a distant memory, as the 2016 version of the Redblacks can’t catch a break, with the injury bug striking early and often.
Let’s take a look at Redblacks’ casualty list so far.
LB Arto Khatchikian (Knee)
Khatchikian was drafted by Ottawa in the 7th round (54th overall) and expected to contribute immediately on special teams. Instead, he wound up hurting his knee during a non-contact drill on the first day of training camp and was cut shortly afterwards.
OL Nolan MacMillan (Broken Wrist)
Expected to start either at right guard or potentially right tackle, MacMillan’s training camp injury forced the Redblacks to start an American at RT. Until he gets healthy (in a projected 6-8 weeks), MacMillan’s spot is being held down by a combination of Alex Mateas and Jason Lauzon-Seguin.
RB/FB Brendan Gillanders (Knee)
Another training camp injury. Gillanders was supposed to split time with Patrick Lavoie or perhaps even earn a few carries as a running back, but instead R-Nation will have to wait 6-8 weeks to see the Ottawa native on the field.
DB/LB Michael Charland (Groin)
Drafted 16th overall, the Gatineau product was another rookie expected to contribute on special teams and to back up LB Antonie Pruneau. With an expected recovery time of 3-4 months, it’ll be quite awhile before he returns to action.
RB William Powell (Achilles)
On just his third carry of the pre-season, Powell went down with a ruptured Achilles, shelving him for the year and ruining any chance at the break-out season many had him pegged for.
P Ronnie Pfeffer (Left ankle)
Also hurt in Ottawa’s first pre-season game, likely when making a tackle while covering a kickoff return. The most worrying thing about the injury is that it is to the same foot that caused Pfeffer to miss most of last season too.
DL Nigel Romick (Torn Bicep)
Yet another player hurt in the game vs Winnipeg. A valuable special teamer (he led Ottawa with 19 special teams tackles last year), the earliest Romick could return is late September.
DL Moton Hopkins (Wrist)
Before finding his way onto the six game injured list, Hopkins was pencilled in to start at defensive tackle for the Redblacks. Until Hopkins is healthy, Canadian Connor Williams replaces him.
QB Henry Burris (Torn pinky ligaments on throwing hand)
“Iron” Hank avoided injury scares his first two years in Ottawa, starting every game for the Redblacks as QBs around the league dropped like flies. Unfortunately, a seemingly nothing play in the season opener quickly sent him to the six game list. Luckily for the sake of the 2016 campaign, GM Marcel Desjardins apparently uses a crystal ball and signed Trevor Harris in the off-season.
RB Travon Van (Knee)
Just went Van seemed to be stepping up and making the most of Powell’s injury, he too fell victim to the injury bug. While it doesn’t appear to be season ending, R-Nation won’t see him toting the rock for at least six games. In the meantime, look for Canadian Kienan LaFrance or newly signed Americans Mossis Madu and Nic “Traveling” Grigsby to share the backfield load.
LB Olivier Goulet-Veilleux (Leg fracture)
An absolutely sickening leg injury to Goulet-Veilleux further depletes Ottawa’s Canadian depth and weakens their special teams units.
WR/KR Jamill Smith (Broken Rib)
Long lauded by R-Nation for his ability to take a brutal hit and pop right back up, Smith finally took a shot he couldn’t shake off. It remains to be seen who takes over kick return duties since its highly unlikely Ottawa risks WR Chris Williams back there.