Paopao vows to protect Joseph better

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 12:08 PM ET

Passing through security at Edmonton airport the same time as the Renegades early yesterday were country/rock superstar Jim Cuddy, hockey superdad Walter Gretzky and lameduck CFL commish Tom Wright.

Kerry Joseph had to be relieved to notice the list of who's who did not include anyone from the Eskimos defence.

The Renegades QB saw much more than enough of Rashad Jeanty, Cedric Scott and Joe Montford at Commonwealth Stadium about 10 hours earlier.

Sacked a whopping seven times, Joseph had little opportuntity to find a groove in Ottawa's regular-season opener Friday night. Hence, the offence managed a grand total of eight first downs and was on the field for just 22 minutes, the defence wore down and the end result was a predictable 41-16 beating.

"We've got to find a way to protect our quarterback better," coach Joe Paopao mused during a layover in Calgary. "And we will."

The means may include a trade, as there have been serious talks with at least one West Division club.

The return of import left tackle Reggie Nelson would help, but his ankle sprain is on the inside of the foot and thus may keep him out another 1-2 weeks, at least.

FREE-AGENT LIST

Paopao also said management is monitoring available free-agent lists on both sides of the border, and some consideration will be given to moving star centre George Hudson to left tackle, where he lined up a few years ago when he tried out for the NFL's Dallas Cowboys -- and where he worked late in Friday's game when rookie Marc Parenteau left the game after taking a shot in the jewels. But such a move would seem unlikely before Mike Sutherland, who can play centre, returns from a broken finger.

Right now, it appears Parenteau will make his second pro start when the Renegades host Montreal in their home opener Friday.

"You can't get experience unless you go and play," said Paopao.

The list of positives in the opener is topped by the play of Jason Armstead, who scored both of Ottawa's touchdowns on a second-quarter 87-yard punt return and a late game 54-yard catch-and-run that included a spectacular pirouette.

"We're going to need that kind of stuff from him," said Paopao. "He's going to be a marked man, but that's part of his gift to the team."

Decent was a defence that basically shut down the CFL's highest paid player, QB Ricky Ray, until the last drive of the first half. On that possession, Edmonton was allowed a touchdown to go up 19-9 even though replays showed Jason Tucker dropped the ball in the end zone. A couple of plays earlier, a fumble recovery was wiped out when it was incorrectly ruled that Travis Gaylor was downed first.

OFFICIAL TROUBLE

Officials aided Edmonton drives throughout the night. Eskimos right tackle Patrick Kabongo got away with holding Kai Ellis, who still managed a pair of sacks, a few times. Likewise, centre Sandy Annunziata hauled down Jerome Haywood more than once without being flagged.

Of course, shoddy officiating wasn't the reason Ottawa was thumped, just as kicker Matt Kellett's 0-for-2 night wasn't either. The Renegades had just 184 yards of net offence compared to Edmonton's 421, which included 27 first downs.

But the Renegades might have led at the half had the calls and kicking been different.

Kellett's career as a Renegade got started on the wrong foot when he was wide left on field-goal tries of 42 and 33 yards in the first half.

"One game isn't going to make or break your year," said Paopao. "He's a veteran. He knows. I was with Lui (Pasaglia) one time when he went through a 1-for-6 stretch or something, and he bounced back.

"(Kellett) will be fine. You gotta give him a chance to bounce through it. I know he can play better. I've seen him play well against us. You've got to give him the confidence. He's been a pro for seven years. And he doesn't play on offence or defence."

Still, the Renegades may take another look at former NFL kicker Bjorn Nittmo.

On the plus side, middle linebacker Keaton Cromartie, who left with a mild concussion 12 minutes into the game, is expected to be okay for the home opener.

don.brennan@ott.sunpub.com


Videos

Photos