Redblacks release Ryan Lankford after return gaffe

The Redblacks have released Ryan Lankford after his game-changing mistake in Ottawa’s loss during Week 4.

“It was a cumulative effect,” general manager Marcel Desjardins said on TSN radio 1200 in Ottawa. “At the end of the day we felt it had to be better.”

Ottawa was trailing by eight with less than 11 minutes to go in the fourth quarter when Noel Thore’s defence forced a punt from Justin Medlock. It should be noted Lankford has been returning kicks and punts since 2015 in the Canadian three-down game.

“The plan was to field it. It was an eight-point game and we wanted to field it and get north-south as fast as we could and go from there. We didn’t want to turn it into a two possession game with the way the game was going and points were hard to come by. Obviously, a very unfortunate thing that happened,” Redblacks head coach Rick Campbell said on TSN radio 1200 in Ottawa.

Lankford let the ball bounce around as Medlock hustled downfield to knock it out of bounds and give Winnipeg possession at the four-yard line. Two plays later Chris Streveler plunged into the end zone for a touchdown to put the Bombers ahead by 15.

“The plan was definitely that we were not giving up a single point. That we were going to field the ball and it just didn’t happen that way. I’m not going to blame the guy, we obviously need to communicate it better. At that point in the game it was tough to overcome that,” Campbell said.

“We teach them those rules, but sometimes instinct takes over. Ryan’s a guy that’s played in this league before, so that was more surprising about it. We obviously gotta get on the ball and field it.”

That error cost Lankford his job.

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