Ottawa Redblacks lose three defensive starters for QB Dustin Crum’s debut vs. Bombers

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/

The Ottawa Redblacks will face some serious changes to their starting lineup when they take on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Saturday, beginning under centre.

Rookie third-stringer Dustin Crum will make his first career start at quarterback after starter Jeremiah Masoli suffered a season-ending Achilles tear in Week 5, one week after backup Tyrie Adams was lost for the season with a torn ACL.

Crum threw for 149 yards and two interceptions in relief of Masoli in the 21-13 loss but was highly effective along the ground, rushing for 91 yards and one touchdown. He originally joined the Redblacks in September of 2022, spending most of his time on the practice roster.

The six-foot-one, 210-pound passer played five seasons at Kent State University where he was named the Mid-American Conference (MAC) MVP in 2021. He completed 66.7 percent of his passes with the Golden Flashes for 7,420 yards, 55 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. He also ran the ball 477 times for 2,071 yards for 24 touchdowns.

The 24-year-old spent training camp with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2022, though he was released shortly before its conclusion. He completed 10-of-15 pass attempts during the preseason for 56 yards while rushing six times for 25 yards. He was also sacked four times.

Crum will be backed up by veteran Nick Arbuckle, while the recently signed Tyrell Pigrome draws into the lineup as the third-stringer.

Joining Masoli on the six-game injured list are a trio of defensive starters from a week ago. Cornerback Hakeem Bailey (unlisted) and safety Justin Howell (hamstring) will be absent from the defensive backfield, while Global linebacker Tyron Vrede (bicep) is also out long-term after leading the team with 11 tackles against Hamilton.

Rookie Deandre Lamont will draw the start at corner with veteran Sherrod Baltimore returning to the lineup to backup, while Alonzo Addae will take over at safety. Canadian Adam Auclair takes over at middle linebacker, with projected starter Jovan Santos-Knox, backup Chizi Umunakwe, and now Vrede all on the injured list.

Recently acquired linebacker Kevin Francis will see his first action in a depth role, as will 2023 second-round pick Lucas Cormier. Veteran fullback Anthony Gosselin returns to the lineup, while American receiver C.J. Lewis will be a healthy scratch.

Ottawa will get one starter back, however, as running back Devonte Williams returns for the first time since Week 1. In nine career CFL games, the 26-year-old has carried 101 times for 490 yards while catching 31 passes for 174 yards. De’Montre Tuggle, who rushed for 176 yards and a touchdown in three appearances, has been placed back on the practice squad.

The Reblacks (1-3) will host the Bombers (4-1) on Saturday, July 15 at 4:00 p.m. EDT. They are currently point underdogs.

Photo courtesy: Ottawa Redblacks