Redblacks GM believes in Drew Tate: He’s a smart quarterback

The Ottawa Redblacks could be without regular starting quarterback Trevor Harris for the stretch drive of the CFL season.

Harris will be added to the six-game injured list due to a right shoulder sprain and it’s unclear when he’ll be able to return. Backup pivot Drew Tate will get the nod Sunday in Montreal as the Redblacks try to hang on to first place in the East Division standings.

“(Tate) has the ability to move around a little bit and create things with his feet,” Redblacks general manager Marcel Desjardins said Tuesday. “He sees the field very well. He understands the personnel in the league, understands defences, he understands what people are going to try to do to us so it’s not like we’re throwing somebody in there who’s never been in this league.

“He throws a very nice, catchable ball and he’s just a smart quarterback.”

Harris suffered a second-degree sprain in a 26-22 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Saturday night. Desjardins said it’s too early to say when Harris might be back, but he doesn’t think he’ll miss the rest of the season.

Ottawa leads the weak East Division standings with a 4-7-1 record. Toronto is one point back and Montreal is three points behind, with both teams holding a game in hand on the Redblacks.

Ottawa has allowed the most sacks in the league this season (30), but Desjardins is standing by his front five.

“When I look at our offensive line I would take our group before pretty much any group in the league and I mean that truthfully,” he said. “They are a good group of players. They may not always play the best as a unit and there are breakdowns that happen with every offensive line, but at the end of the day they are a solid group and we have full confidence in them.

“A hit or a sack isn’t always going to be the result of the O-line not doing their job. There are so many other things that can break down that cause that to happen.”

Tate, 32, completed eight of 13 passes for 114 yards and one touchdown in relief of Harris last week. He has spent most of his CFL career as a backup and will make his first start in three years against the Alouettes.

Last season, Harris came in after starter Henry Burris was injured and was stellar until he was sidelined by injury. The Redblacks are hopeful Tate can be just as effective this season.

“I just hope we win games,” Desjardins said. “Whatever happens as a result of that positively I’ll take.”

A poor first half was too much to overcome last week as the Ticats ended the Redblacks’ three-game winning streak. It was Hamilton’s second win of the season.

“It was very difficult to watch (the first half),” said Desjardins. “We just didn’t come out with any urgency in any facet of our game. We tried to adjust in the second half and did a lot of good things, but it was too little, too late.”

“At the end of the day if we can get ourselves back on the page we were on prior to this game I think we have a very good chance of moving forward in the right direction.”