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Thursday, July 21, 2016

REDBLACKS READY FOR SASKATCHEWAN

he Ottawa Redblacks boast an undefeated record despite numerous injuries, and they continue to improve and impress every week.

In stark contrast, the struggling Saskatchewan Roughriders haven't picked up a win and suffered another blow last week when starting quarterback Darian Durant injured his ankle.

Despite what appears to be a mismatch on paper, the Redblacks (3-0-1) head into Regina on Friday aware that any team coached by Chris Jones is sure to rise to the pressure.

"This is not a case about one team being better than the other, they just haven't found a way to win a game yet,'' said Redblacks head coach Rick Campbell. "Our guys aren't going to fall for that one, especially in Regina with the crowd and how a tough a place it is to get a win.''

Ottawa quarterback Trevor Harris said the Riders have been in games with some of the CFL's top teams.

"We both took Edmonton to overtime so that shows how close the teams are,'' said Harris. "It's a battle every single week and they have some great players and we know that if you don't bring it every single week you're going to lose.''

Harris, who took over for the injured Henry Burris in the season opener, has been instrumental to the Redblacks' success. He leads all QBs with 1,475 passing yards and nine touchdowns and has thrown just one interception.

Harris, signed by Ottawa in the off-season, has found instant chemistry with his receivers with Chris Williams and Greg Ellingson.

Williams leads the CFL in receptions (31), receiving yards (556) and touchdowns (6), while Ellingson is tied for second in receptions (25) and is second in receiving yards (439) and has one touchdown.

"Every receiver wants the ball, but we have an unselfish group and we also know that when it's your time and your opportunity you have to make the plays,'' said Ellingson. "You're not going to get the ball and get the yards every game, but if they want to put two over Chris and leave somebody else open or try to put two over on my side or anything like that we have other guys who can make plays and we're not scared to throw it to those guys.''

Those other guys include Brad Sinopoli and Ernest Jackson who have also made significant contributions with 22 and 19 receptions respectively.

"It's like you have four weapons instead of one or two and any time you have four you can pick up one at any time and one of them is going to be open,'' said Harris. "The thing with our guys is they each have such different strengths and they play differently to different defences so it makes it difficult on defences. I wouldn't want to be a D-co-ordinator trying to play against this group of guys.''

Without Durant, the Roughriders (0-3) backup Mitchell Gale will make his first career start. Gale is in his fifth CFL season but has played sparingly as a depth quarterback in Toronto and Hamilton. He looked solid coming in for Durant in Saskatchewan's loss to B.C .last week, completing 17-of-30 pass attempts for 247 yards and a touchdown.

"We know Mitchell Gale is a solid person, he's prepared all his life for this opportunity,'' Jones told reporters in Regina on Thursday.

"He ain't got no jitters. He ain't nervous.''

Notes: The Redblacks made some roster changes for Friday's game as Forrest Hightower, Jerrell Gavins and Mitchell White and Burton De Koning, making his CFL debut, will start. DB Jonathan Rose and DE Martin Wright are both out with minor injuries. Jason Lauzon-Seguin was added to the one-game injured list.

(Canadian Press)

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