For 'Gades, it's next year time

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:26 AM ET

The hopes for a trip to the playoffs and playing in the Grey Cup at Frank Clair Stadium are dead, but the desperation which has marked their last two games should still be the watchword for the Ottawa Renegades.

If they couldn't get it done for the collective good, now they have to get it done for themselves, individually.

No job is -- or should be -- safe within the Renegades' ranks these days.

If the players are as behind coach Joe Paopao, whose contract expires at the end of the season, as they say they are and want to add more evidence he is worthy of returning, they need to do it over the last couple of games.

This is about next year now.

"The approach has to be professional," Paopao said yesterday. "When you signed up here, you signed up for 18 games.

"The last two games we played were pivotal and we played that way. That approach has to continue. We can't just say, 'It's over, we're through.' We need to finish on a good note."

INJURY BUG

With the Renegades (5-11) slammed hard yet again by injuries in Friday night's overtime loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, there's going to be an opportunity for some players to step in and make an impression for next year.

The Renegades could be without as many as seven players for Saturday's meeting with the Montreal Alouettes.

The news didn't get any better yesterday when Paopao reported the ankle of guard Val St-Germain had ballooned since Friday night.

Fullback Mike Maurer, who bruised his Achilles tendon when he was hit by a car last week, aggravated it Friday night when he was clipped (another blatantly missed call by the crack CFL officiating crew).

"He never saw it coming," said Paopao. "So he couldn't brace himself."

Out for sure are quarterback Darnell Kennedy, who broke his left hand Friday, and defensive lineman John Turntine, who added to his existing ankle-foot woes.

There are questions about receiver Jason Armstead, one of this season's pleasant surprises, who suffered a knee injury (sprained MCL) Friday night and was to undergo an MRI exam. Paopao said he's probably out.

Linebacker Kelly Wiltshire might be capable of keeping his consecutive-games streak intact despite some damage to his knee (cartilage and the meniscus). One thing's for sure, he's going to need surgery after the season to fix it.

Same thing for linebacker Reggie Givens, who has been nothing short of outstanding lately. He has made a strong case for a return next year.

"It's going to depend on how things shake out. But you can see why he was one of the few linebackers at Penn State to start all four years," said Paopao. "He's making hits and not just wrapping guys up. He's setting a tone."

This week could be a chance for lineman Anthony Collier, linebacker Tony White and receiver Sean Bennett, who's been on the practice roster, to get some quality playing time.

BANKS SPELLED RELIEF

Brad Banks, who was impressive in relief of Kennedy, will get his first start. Getting handed the ball to start is a lot different from getting a tap on the shoulder and sliding into a game in relief.

"It's going to be against Montreal, so there's a baptism for you. But the bigger the odds, the bigger the glory," said Paopao. "He's going to hold up. He's a gamer. He looks like he's pretty polished. He's struggled in practice because he's tried to do too much, but he looks like a natural CFL quarterback."

Paopao said the team will not be looking for another quarterback this week, despite being down to just Banks and Tyler Paopao. Receiver David Azzi, who played quarterback at the University of Ottawa, will be the third man.

"He did well as a receiver and we'd like to play him there," said Paopao. "If we get down to the third quarterback, it's probably not a good sign."


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