Real test for Renegades

After just looking at his own players for two weeks, Renegades coach Joe Paopao sees some real game...

After just looking at his own players for two weeks, Renegades coach Joe Paopao sees some real game action tonight -- the CFL team's pre-season opener against the Alouettes. (Ottawa Sun File Photo)

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:44 PM ET

KEMPTVILLE -- Word straight from Bible is that the Renegades have yet to see the best of Paul Peterson.

From Boston College offensive coordinator Dana Bible, that is.

"He used to tell me, 'you're a crappy practice player,' " Peterson said yesterday. "I like games. Practice is fun, but you get to put it all together in games. I'd rather be known as a gamer."

Peterson's first chance to put it all together as a Renegades quarterback will arrive in the second quarter of tonight's pre-season opener against the Montreal Alouettes at Percival Molson Stadium.

Backup QB Brad Banks will start, while Kerry Joseph -- who will get the majority of snaps in pre-season game No. 2 against the Als next Thursday at Frank Clair Stadium -- is scheduled to work the third quarter.

The game plan calls for Banks and the rookie Peterson to split the fourth quarter.

"All you can ask for is a chance to prove what you can do," said Peterson. "This will be a good opportunity."

The Renegades, who have now played the Alouettes in these back-to-back pre-season evaluation tuneups three times, expect Montreal coach Don Matthews will try to set the tone for his team's season right out of the gate. The Als defence should test the Renegades' quarterbacks and new offensive line with an abundance of pressure.

And, if the past is any indication, Montreal star QB Anthony Calvillo will likely enter the game, perhaps to stay, in the second half.

SHORT STINTS

Mostly, Ottawa starters will play one quarter, as about 15-20 players have to be released before Monday at midnight.

"We'll be looking at our defensive line, at how our big (rookie import) receivers respond to a game in the Canadian league, our back end and how the kicking game transpires," said Renegades coach/GM Joe Paopao. "It will be kind of like an open book.

"We'll look at everything."

Probably the biggest question mark for the Renegades is an offensive line which led the CFL last season in sacks allowed and tonight will be missing two veterans in Val St. Germain (groin) and Mike Sutherland (broken finger). The performance of tackles Marc Parenteau and Obby Khan in the exhibitions will determine if Ottawa can go with an all-Canadian line this season, thus freeing up an import spot elsewhere.

LINEMEN IMPROVING

"I think Obby has had a good camp, and Marc is coming along," said Paopao. "And (import) Reggie Nelson has had an outstanding couple of days.

"We have to figure out what combination is going to work for us. We're okay. There are guys we can choose from. You always look at the wire, but we can pick six or seven out of this group."

Banks, meanwhile, will be returning to the city of some personal significance, if not the exact scene.

The 25-year-old former Heisman Trophy runner-up made his first pro start last October at the Big Owe, and while the Renegades lost that next-to-last game of the season against the Alouettes, Banks completed 26-of-37 passes for 317 yards and a pair of touchdowns, along with one interception. He also rushed the ball eight times for 36 yards, prompting Matthews to tell Paopao afterwards that he had himself a good one in Banks.

"Playing (Montreal) is a good chance to evaluate yourself ... they have a great defence," said Banks, who quickly shot down the any notion the Renegades quarterback job is up for grabs.

"Kerry is the No. 1 guy. There's no controversy. We work real well together."

After a disappointing season that saw him miss six games and the team struggle to a 5-13 finish, Joseph is anxious to get started on the right foot -- even if it is just a pre-season game.

"To win," he replied when asked what he wanted to accomplish tonight. "It's very important ... what it's all about. We want to win and execute our offence."

don.brennan@ott.sunpub.com

THE LONGEST YARD?

The Renegades aren't the longest shot to win the Grey Cup in 2005. But they're the least likely in the East, according to oddsmakers bowmans.com, Their odds for each team:

- Edmonton: 3-2

- Montreal: 5-2

- B.C.: 3-1

- Toronto: 6-1

- Saskatchewan: 10-1

- Calgary: 15-1

- Hamilton: 18-1

- Ottawa: 20-1

- Winnipeg: 30-1


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