'Gades stretch the limit

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:22 AM ET

KEMPTVILLE -- On Cutdown Day in the CFL, the scoreboard favored the rookie GM: Joe Paopao 1, The System 0.

The Renegades bought themselves some extra evaluating time yesterday when -- in getting down to the league-required maximum of 50 players -- they cut only Canadians Brian Oddi and Mike Homewood, then defiantly placed eight veterans on the suspension list.

In some circles, the latter move might be referred to as a 'fast one.'

All eight players have been bothered by injuries and weren't going to play in tomorrow's pre-season home game against the Montreal Alouettes. Officially, they "left" camp, although they didn't jump so much as they were pushed. Most or all are expected to come off the list as soon as Friday, Paopao admitted.

"We have never done this before," he said. "But other teams have."

Other teams have indeed used such means to hide players at this time of year, but rarely more than one and almost never in excess of two individuals at a time. The Renegades' suspension list is now 10 players long, as O-linemen Val St. Germain, George Hudson and Mike Sutherland, receivers David Azzi and Darryl Ray, quarterbacks Brad Banks and Tyler Paopao and D-lineman Cameron Legault have been added, alongside LB Syniker Taylor and DB Leonard Myers.

"If a club reports that a player has left camp, then it's grounds for a suspension," said Ed Chalupka, the CFL's senior VP, football operations/secretary. "In the absence of any other evidence, we have to go by what the club tells us. Every indication we have is that those players have left. Those rules have been in place for years. What's flagging this one is just the quantum."

RAISING OBJECTIONS

Asked if the suddenly heavy Ottawa suspension list didn't arouse his suspicions, Chalupka wouldn't comment. Nor would he comment when asked if the league had heard complaints from other clubs. Be sure that there have already been objections, however, and that the CFL will have to look at covering the loophole in the future.

Meanwhile, the Renegades hope to get through tomorrow's game against an anxious Als team without losing any more players to injury.

Paopao conceded he could stray from an original plan to use No. 1 QB Kerry Joseph for a half. That would seem to be a wise idea. Of the eight offensive linemen Ottawa will dress, only tackle Obby Khan and guards Pascal Cheron and Samir Chahine have any CFL experience.

Joseph's blindside will be well protected, however, as it will be covered by two imports, tackle Reggie Nelson and guard Morris Unutoa. Rookie Jean-Francois Roy will start at centre, while rookie Christian Leibl-Cote will also get some snaps.

The Alouettes will be relatively hungry to avenge last week's 27-16 loss to Ottawa, not particularly eager to go 0-2 in the pre-season. Hence, they'll be expected to apply plenty of heat to Renegades quarterbacks and the offensive line.

"It's been a very competitive camp for the O-line," said Chahine, hoping to be among the team's top six linemen. "I'm just going to battle my ass off and see where the chips fall."

Falling awkwardly cost Oddi a spot on the roster. The rookie non-import had shown impressively through camp at the SAM linebacker position, where his ability to cover receivers was noted.

But Oddi suffered a first degree sprain of his ACL in pre-season game No. 1 and will be re-evaluated next week, with the possibility he could be brought back.

"If the swelling goes down, he could play all year with it," said Paopao. "Or he may need surgery."


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