Paopao puts axe to work

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 2:04 PM ET

It's called burning the midnight oil.

And yesterday afternoon, Renegades coach and GM Joe Paopao predicted lots would be used last night.

With the CFL's deadline of 3 p.m. today to have rosters reduced to 40 players, Paopao and his colleagues were deciding on who would stay and who would go as the team prepares for its regular-season opener next Friday against the Eskimos in Edmonton.

EIGHT PLAYERS SENT PACKING

The first wave of cuts came last night, with eight players sent packing, including veteran safety Greg Bearman, defensive tackle Anthony Collier and placekicker Bjorn Nittmo, who signed with the club earlier this week.

Meanwhile, Sportsnet was reporting on its website last night that the Renegades had picked up wide receiver Frank Cutolo on waivers from the B.C. Lions.

The roster, not including players on injured reserve or Cutolo, is down to 48 and needs to be reduced by eight by this afternoon.

The other players released last night: Canadian safety Fabian Burke, import defensive tackle Derek Kennard, rookie import receivers Bashir Yamini and Robert Quiroga and Canadian offensive lineman Jean-Francois Roy.

All this amid trade talk as the eight other clubs cut their rosters.

"Has there been (trade) talk? Yes. We've been looking at the wire since the (start) of training camp," said Paopao during a conference call with reporters.

The Renegades could use some help after taking it on the chin against Montreal in Thursday's 36-17 pre-season loss at Frank Clair Stadium.

Not only did they come up short on the scoreboard, but the Renegades also suffered a couple of key injuries heading into the season opener in Edmonton where an Ottawa football team has not won since 1983.

Import left tackle Reggie Nelson, the man entrusted to protect the blindside of QB Kerry Joseph, sprained his right ankle and is doubtful for the game against the Eskimos.

Backup running back Ka'Ron Coleman also suffered an ankle injury and will also likely miss the game. And veteran defensive back George McCullough has an arch injury that could sideline him for the opener.

They're just the latest in an already long list of injuries for the Renegades, which has grown to eight players -- including six veterans.

Canadian receivers Darryl Ray and David Azzi, both Ottawa natives, will miss Friday's game to injury, leaving veteran Pat Woodcock, who is nursing a sore hamstring, and newcomer Markus Howell as the only Canuck pass catchers on the roster.

Paopao said yesterday that rookie fullback Cory Hathaway, whom he termed one of the most pleasant surprises during training camp, could provide some help at the receiver position.

Another concern is on the offensive line, one that Paopao called "makeshift" during Thursday's contest against the Als, now that Nelson has been heaped on the injured list.

Paopao said centre George Hudson, who hurt a foot during the first pre-season game, would be ready for the opener and veteran Val St. Germain is probable.

"We were sporadic. We just wanted to get away with our health," Paopao said of Thursday's performance by the offensive line.

"We made 12 first downs, and we had less than 50 plays. If you win a game, that's fine. But when you come up short, those numbers don't equate to where we need to be."

Rookie Canadian Marc Parenteau is listed behind Nelson on the team's depth chart at left tackle, but the Renegades might consider getting an emergency replacement for Friday to protect Joseph.

Backup quarterback Brad Banks suffered a pinched nerve in his throwing shoulder during the first pre-season game and will miss the opener.

Darnell Kennedy will serve as Joseph's backup -- but the Renegades don't want to think about backups to Joseph so early in the season.

On the kicking front, Paopao accepted kicker Matt Kellett's explanation that he simply botched the catch on a snap in punt formation that led to Montreal's first touchdown on Thursday.

Kellett kicked a 40-yard field goal and punted in the first half, averaging a little more than one yard more on each of his four kicks than Pat Fleming did while punting for the Renegades in the second half.

"Pat didn't have the average Matt had, but he's going to be here," said Paopao. "I can tell you that."

barre.campbell@ott.sunpub.com


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