Horror show for Renegades

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:12 AM ET

It's tough to figure out what's more scary: The play of the Ottawa Renegades, or The Exorcism of Emily Rose.

It's been a horror show, with nothing going right for the Renegades for the past five weeks or so.

Kerry Joseph looks good in some games, awful in others, and has been forced to deal with talk about the signing of TV heartthrob and QB Jesse Palmer.

Sure-handed receivers like Yo Murphy are dropping touchdown passes. Depressed veterans are worried that the team is heading in the same direction as last year's club which began with three straight wins, only to win just two more times the rest of the season.

Following last week's embarrassing 61-27 home loss to the B.C. Lions, one player called the losing atmosphere "sickening."

Meanwhile, attendance at Frank Clair Stadium have been low, adding to the gloomy mood. Lots of empty seats were shown during Friday night's TSN broadcast of the game, which only reinforced the country's opinion that the Renegades franchise is in trouble, and that Ottawa is a bad sports town.

They can't even get a team photo done. The shoot was supposed to have taken place yesterday morning at Frank Clair Stadium, but they postponed it because of the downpour that hit the city.

The picture will be snapped at a later date, but some players might not be around when the photographer gets behind the lens and tells the guys to say cheese.

It might be tough for this bunch to muster a smile, the way things are going.

Coach Joe Paopao warned of changes to personnel on Friday after the Renegades' fourth-straight loss, a dismal 37-21 setback to the Blue Bombers at home. It was a game that well displayed the kind of month it's been for Ottawa's CFL team.

The Renegades got absolutely no breaks. The Bombers, who entered the game on the brink of playoff elimination, found the perfect tonic in the Renegades.

They didn't turn the ball over once -- even in soggy conditions.

HEADS-UP PLAY FROM PUNTER

Jon Ryan, the outstanding sophomore punter for the Bombers, made a superb play on a bad snap in kicking formation in the final quarter. Instead of bobbling the rain-slicked ball and giving the Renegades a chance of returning a fumble for a touchdown, Ryan grabbed the slippery pigskin and ran for a first down deep into Ottawa territory.

That heads-up play led to a field goal and a nine-point lead for Winnipeg, putting the Renegades in dire straits.

Ottawa's playoff hopes aren't dead yet, with a record of 5-7, but they're slipping away.

Not so long ago, the Renegades appeared to have a comfortable lead on some of their competition from the western division.

"We don't want to put (our fate) in anybody else's hands," Paopao said yesterday.

But that's what the Renegades will do if they don't escape from their current shop of horrors.

Both Calgary and Saskatchewan began the weekend with 5-6 records and had a chance to gain a game on the Renegades.

It'll be tough luck Ottawa and good-bye playoffs -- for the fourth time in the four-year history of the club -- if those teams finish the regular season with a better record than the Renegades, even if Ottawa finishes third in the East.

"It's going to be real interesting," said Paopao. "We've looked at all the schedules, and everybody has a tough one. We've just got to get this thing going in the right direction."

And quickly -- with a positive result on Thursday in Calgary. Otherwise, this show could get real ugly.

GRID BITS: Paopao liked the play of DB Crance Clemons who made his season debut after missing last season to a knee injury. The coach's only beef against Clemons was his lack of coverage of Chris Brazzell on a two-point conversion ... FB Gilles Lezi suffered a right ankle sprain and hobbled on crutches after the game. He's questionable for the game in Calgary ... Also injured were LB Kyries Hebert (knee), OL Fred Moore (knee), DB Quincy Coleman (lower back sprain), LB Cam Yeow (right knee) and DL Kai Ellis (finger). All are probable for Calgary, except Yeow who's questionable.

barre.campbell@ott.sunpub.com


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