Winnipeg – When the Winnipeg Blue Bombers take the field Friday night in Ottawa to close out their 2016 CFL regular season they will be facing an Ottawa team that looks quite different from the one that beat them 23-10 in Winnipeg last weekend. RedBlacks coach Rick Campbell will send out 9 different starters, 10 if you count the kick returner position where Jamill Smith will take over lead duties from Tristan Jackson. The bulk of the changes are on offence where Campbell has elected to sit down quarterback Henry Burris, running back Mossis Madu, receivers Ernest Jackson, Greg Ellingson and Brad Sinopoli. But the Ottawa defence will also be missing four stalwarts–defensive linemen Moton Hopkins and Zack Evans, safety Antoine Pruneau and defensive back Abdul Kanneh.
RedBlacks coach Rick Campbell explained the changes. “We want to be smart medically. We had 31 guys in the training room after that last game which is a crazy amount of people to be in there. So we just want to be smart The money is on November 20th, that’s the big game(the East final) and we just want to make sure we’re as healthy as possible for that game.”
Campbell admitted it would be nice to defeat the Bombers so the RedBlacks can finish the season with a winning record, but making sure they are healthy for the East final trumps all other considerations. RedBlacks bring an 8-8-1 record into the game while the Bombers are 10-7. Winnipeg still has a shot at second in the West division, but only if they beat Ottawa and the B.c. Lions lose at home to Saskatchewan on Saturday. A Bomber win will make a Winnipeg-B.C. semi-final game a certainty. If the Bombers lose, and Edmonton defeats Toronto on Saturday, Winnipeg would finish fourth and cross-over to play Hamilton in the East semi-final.
North Dakota State product Brock Jensen will start at quarterback for the RedBlacks with Danny O’Brien backing him up. Trevor Harris will also dress but isn’t expected to play.
The Blue Bombers are resting middle linebacker Khalil Bass and receiver Clarence Denmark while offensive lineman Travis Bond was nicked up in practice this week and will also sit out. Manasse Foketi will replace Bond. Otherwise the Bombers will go with their front liners as they attempt to end the season on a winning note.
Game time Friday is 6pm Manitoba time with the pre-game show at 5 on 680-cjob.