Redblacks Canadian OL Gott returns from benching to starting lineup

After spending weeks on the sidelines, Jon Gott is getting a chance to help the Ottawa Redblacks clinch a playoff spot.

The veteran offensive lineman is expected to be in Ottawa’s lineup Friday night as the Redblacks (8-5) try to book their ticket to the post-season for a fourth straight year with a win or a tie over the visiting Winnipeg Blue Bombers (7-7).

Gott, who turned 33 years old earlier this week, has something to prove after sitting out the last five games. He had been patiently waiting for his opportunity to get back in the lineup, and while it comes due to injuries, he will take it.

The Redblacks placed offensive lineman Nolan MacMillan and defensive back Antoine Pruneau on the six-game injured list Thursday morning.

“It’s never fun to say that you’re not playing any more,” Gott said. “It’s been a while since I’ve sat on the bench so it was something different. I dealt with it and tried to help the guys as much as I could and just come in with a good attitude.

“I’ve been playing for ten years so I think I’ve proven how I can play so I’m just going out there to have fun and help the team win.”

Gott said his time on the sidelines had him pondering his football future.

“It comes into mind and you can’t help thinking about it a bit, but you’ve just got to help the team out as much as you can and worry about that when the season is over.”

Meanwhile, kicker Lewis Ward looks to continue his exceptional rookie season.

The Kingston, Ont., native, generously listed at five-foot-seven, has been instrumental to the Redblacks success. The University of Ottawa graduate has made 40 of his 41 field goal attempts and two weeks ago set a single-season mark for consecutive field goals, breaking the previous record of 32 set by Calgary Stampeders kicker Rene Paredes in 2016.

Ward has now connected on 37 straight attempts and is just two away from matching the record for longest streak, 39, set by Paredes in the 2012-2013 season. The Redblacks kicker’s lone miss came in the season opener against Calgary.

“The most important thing is winning football games and by doing what I’m doing I’m able to contribute,” said Ward. “I don’t get caught up in it and it’s not something I think about too much.”

The Redblacks, who lead Hamilton by two points atop the East Division, are coming off a bye week and are looking to extend their two-game winning streak, but know they’ll need to be at their best against a Bombers team coming off an impressive 30-3 victory over Edmonton.

The Bombers enter Friday’s game tied with Edmonton for third spot in the West Division. Coach Mike O’Shea likes the way his team is playing right now and wants to ensure the focus remains on the Redblacks, and not potential playoff implications.

“The danger, as I’ve always said, of looking too far ahead and thinking about how this sets us up is you miss what’s at hand right now,” admitted O’Shea. “This game is extremely important to us and we don’t look anything past that.”

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