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June 19, 2018

REDBLACKS’ defence buzzing ahead of season debut

Chris Hofley/Ottawa REDBLACKS

OTTAWA — Week 1 is down and Week 2 commences. This also brings the first sign of the Ottawa REDBLACKS in the 2018 regular season as their new-season jitters were left hanging for a week longer than the others.

After having spent the opening week of the season on a bye, the REDBLACKS hit the gridiron as they prep for their matchup against the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Thursday night.

“It’ll be exciting just to get out there and get the season started for us,” Rico Murray told OttawaREDBLACKS.com. “We got to sit back and watch everyone else get to it, so it’s exciting and we have a great opportunity with them coming into our home stadium”

The Roughriders are coming off of a 27-19 victory over the Toronto Argonauts, whom Murray happened to spend the 2017 season with, ultimately winning a Grey Cup while also earning himself East Division All-Star honours.

After winning a Grey Cup with the Argos last season, Rico Murray now joins the REDBLACKS in 2018 (The Canadian Press)

The defensive back tallied 55 tackles in 2017 to go along with an interception, a forced fumble, a sack and a touchdown.

Now Murray will look to bring his skills into the REDBLACKS secondary as he embarks on his fifth year in the league.

It’s without question that Ottawa had been itching to get the season under way while watching the results of Week 1 roll through. However, perhaps the REDBLACK who’s the most anxious for kickoff on Thursday would be none other than defensive lineman A.C. Leonard, who was acquired by Ottawa after spending time in Saskatchewan.

“I’ve played in Sask the last two years, so I’m ready,” Leonard said earlier this week. “I’ve been ready since the end of the season when I found out I was coming here. I’m ready to go.”

‘I’m Ready’ just so happened to be the new motto buzzing around the nation’s capital as they look to bounce back to the type of performance that won themselves a Grey Cup in 2016.

Leonard, who tallied five sacks last year with the Riders, has been enjoying his time so far in Ottawa and working within defensive coordinator Noel Thorpe’s defensive scheme.

“I love the system. It fits me, it fits who I am, the type of player I am. Just get to the quarterback and do my job, and that’s what I ask for,” said Leonard.

The REDBLACKS defensive end with get his first crack at doing ‘his job’ when he lines up across from Saskatchewan quarterback Zach Collaros. The Riders pivot completed 18 of 23 passes for 203 yards and a touchdown. The intriguing stat for Leonard’s sake may just be the fact that the Saskatchewan offensive line gave up two sacks, something the Ottawa D-line will want to take advantage of on Thursday.

With files from OttawaRedblacks.com