Four things to watch for in the Redblacks pre-season finale

With one last chance before Saturday’s big cull (in which teams are mandated to trim their rosters to 46 active players, excluding those on injured lists), Thursday night’s pre-season game in Montreal looms large for players hoping to crack the roster of the defending Grey Cup champs. Here’s four things to watch for as the Ottawa Redblacks take on the Alouettes.

QB depth

When healthy, Drew Tate is the first man up behind Trevor Harris. Currently, he isn’t, which means that general manager Marcel Desjardins needs to get a good look at his quarterback depth in order to determine if anyone else needs to be brought in to shore up the position. Last week, ex-NFLer Ryan Lindley got an extended look under centre, playing three full quarters. After a slow start, Lindley settled in and finished the night by leading a game-winning drive. He’ll need to continue improving and find a way to avoid having so many passes batted down at the line of scrimmage.

Behind Lindley is the newly signed Danny Collins. The 6-foot-3, University of Maine product has a big arm and with Tate out and Harris also not playing, Collins should get a decent amount of reps. Austin Trainor, who tried out last season for the NFL’s Buffalo Bills and Atlanta Falcons, rounds out the QB group.

Canadian pass catchers

Ottawa’s lone starting Canadian receiver, Brady Sinopoli, won’t play. That should give the coaching staff and fans a long look at the four Nationals behind him. Last week, Riley Wilson led the way against the Ticats with three catches for 16 yards. Fellow rookies Austen Hartley and Jamal Kett each made a single catch for 9 yards while 3rd year pro Jake Harty was held off the scoresheet. As much as offensive upside matters, special teams play will go a long way in determining who makes the final roster. Harty, a special teams ace, has a clear advantage over the rest of the Canadian corps.

DEs pushing for a starting job

After combining for five tackles, a sack and a forced fumble, Avery Ellis and Darryl Paulo will look to build off their strong showings in the pre-season opener. It’s no secret that there’s an opening for a starting role at defensive end on the Redblacks’ roster, and a big game against the Als could go a long way in solidifying who lands the role. Keep an eye out for 25-year-old Adrian Hubbard. After not suiting up last week, the massive 6-foot-6, 248 pound Hubbard will be looking to make an impression.

Maher returns

Despite being a perfect 2/2 on the night and nailing the game-winning field goal, the Redblacks cut ties with kicker Ray Early to make way for the return of Brett Maher. Fresh off a short stint with the Cleveland Browns, Thursday night marks Maher’s first game in red and black since 2014.

Santino Filoso is originally from Ottawa and has written about the Redblacks since 2013. He is the only CFL writer currently living in Brazil (as far as we know).