Steinauer: Redblacks ‘absolutely’ have advantage based on schedule

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Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ head coach Orlondo Steinauer believes that the schedule has provided the Ottawa Redblacks with an advantage heading into Wednesday’s game at TD Place.

“They are going to be more rested. They’ve had a chance to study us longer,” said Steinauer. “They’re coming off a bye and that probably bodes well for them health-wise.”

The Redblacks are coming off a bye having most recently played on Sept. 11 in a loss to the B.C. Lions. Ottawa enjoyed a full three-day practice week ahead of Wednesday’s game against Hamilton, plus a walkthrough on Tuesday. Hamilton was limited to just one practice this week after defeating the Stampeders at home on Sept. 17.

Steinauer isn’t using the schedule as an excuse, however, indicating that the team is focusing primarily on itself heading into Week 8.

“That’s about the most talk we’ve done about Ottawa,” he said. “It’s rare that we turn our full focus or even half of our focus to the other team. We want to focus on our own self-improvement and getting better every day.”

The Ticats got off to a rocky start this season with back-to-back losses on the road. Third-string quarterback David Watford will make his second consecutive start in Ottawa with Jeremiah Masoli and Dane Evans nursing injuries.

Playing on a short week is never easy, but Steinauer believes his team is up to the challenge.

“I’m actually excited for this game because each week there’s always a test. Sometimes for players that need to get to the next game, the only way to really find out if we’ve made any growth is to take that test. Wednesday will be another test for us and we’re going to have our hands full for sure,” said Steinauer.

Ottawa’s long layoff has allowed a number of players to return following stints on injured reserve, including Brendan Gillanders, DeVonte Dedmon, and Nigel Romick. Kenny Stafford will also make his debut after signing with the team at the start of their bye week.

The Redblacks are on a four-game losing streak and have allowed 96 points over their last two games. Hamilton isn’t taking the club lightly, however, recognizing that there are no easy victories in professional football.

“You can’t take no team in the CFL for granted because things can change for teams fast,” said linebacker Simoni Lawrence. “They’re all grown men, too. They get paychecks, so they’re going to come out whether they’re in survival mode or not and play their hardest.”

Hamilton and Ottawa start Week 8 of the CFL schedule with a rare Wednesday game slated to begin at 7:30 p.m. ET.

John Hodge is a CFL insider and draft analyst who has been covering the league since 2014.