Christmas for 'Gades

Renegades coach Joe Paopao talks to his team during practice earlier this month at Frank Clair...

Renegades coach Joe Paopao talks to his team during practice earlier this month at Frank Clair Stadium. (Ottawa Sun File/Sean Kilpatrick)

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:52 AM ET

While the front office was involved in further conversations aimed at bringing Jesse Palmer to Ottawa yesterday -- a transaction team president Lonie Glieberman now guesses has a 40% chance of happening before the calendar year expires -- Renegades players did their talking on the field.

Front and centre was offensive lineman Pascal Cheron, the self-appointed "Fat, French Bear."

"If we play powerful and we play together, there's no reason we can't win the rest (of the games)," bellowed Cheron, a veteran who was asked to deliver the pre-practice speech to his teammates for the second straight day because head coach Joe Paopao liked how and what he had to say with his first shot.

"We are our worst enemy," Cheron explained later to a smaller, note-taking audience. "It's a cliche but it's true.

"Every game we make mistakes. It's like Christmas. We keep giving and giving. When it's not a missed block, it's an offside or quarterback sack."

The Renegades will try to leave those haunting tendencies behind when they board a Via train for Toronto this morning.

Committing more of the same when facing the Argos tomorrow night at Rogers Centre will surely lead to them to their sixth consecutive loss, driving another nail into Ottawa's playoff chances.

Meanwhile, what's holding up a trade for Palmer is the insistence of the Montreal Alouettes to receive a quality starter or two in return for the locally grown quarterback's rights.

Not wanting to further fuel the absurd speculation they want Paopao to fail so they can get rid of him, the Gliebermans and VP of football operations Forrest Gregg are reluctant to make a deal for the future at the cost of the present.

TALKING ABOUT PALMER

However, negotiations with Palmer's agent are ongoing -- the two sides spoke as recently as yesterday -- in case the Als lessen their demands or the Renegades mathematically eliminate themselves from playoff contention.

With five games, Ottawa could still finish first in the East if Paopao's troops start playing for him.

The Renegades are just two wins behind the front-running Argos, who they also play at home in their season finale Nov. 5.

Tomorrow night, their roster will include six changes from that which was embarrassed by Calgary's No. 3 QB, Danny Wimprine, in a 45-23 loss last Thursday.

Three Canadian receivers -- David Azzi, Darryl Ray and Pat Woodcock -- are coming out with various leg injuries. Also stepping back will be three imports: veteran LB Gerald Vaughn, DB Da'Shann Austin and RB Ka'Ron Coleman.

PUNTER BACK

Returning to action will be punter Pat Fleming, receiver Yo Murphy and Sean Bennett, fullback Gilles Lezi, offensive lineman Mike Sutherland and defensive end Anthony Collier.

Fleming, who has missed the last four games with a broken thumb, admits he's "not even close" to being 100%.

"It's good enough to catch the ball, hold it and kick," said Fleming, who acknowledged a possible reluctance to play his usual game of hustling downfield and making tackles. "I feel the team needs me ... I want to help the team win."

AZZI OUT

Azzi and Woodcock scored the team's offensive touchdowns in Calgary last week. Azzi's 40-yard major was his first catch of the season and made him Kerry Joseph's favourite target of the game -- with four catches for 62 yards.

He'll watch the Argos game from the sidelines with a groin pulled at practice Sunday.

"My whole career I've managed to stay healthy ... I don't know what's going on now," said Azzi, who missed most of camp and the first third of the season with a hamstring problem. "It felt great to be out there and contributing (against the Stamps). I've watched the film and see things I can still polish up, but now I know I can still play."

EXTRA POINTS: In an attempt to add to a season-ticket base that's around the 12,700 mark and to duplicate the success of their one-day, $99 season ticket promotion last spring, the Renegades announced yesterday that they are offering a one day only, 2-for-1 season ticket sale Dec. 10, applicable to many of the seats between the 25- and 40-yard lines that fall into the $400 range.


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