SPORTS

Defensive back McDonald looking forward to fresh start with Redblacks

09/25/2014 04:56 EDT | Updated 11/25/2014 05:59 EST
OTTAWA - Brandon McDonald and the Ottawa Redblacks have a lot in common, as both are looking to learn from their mistakes and move forward.

The Redblacks (1-10) want to put last week's disastrous finish against the Saskatchewan Roughriders behind them and find a way to win another football game. Ottawa's last win was July 18th against Toronto.

Despite leading much of the game the Redblacks were forced to deal with their eighth straight loss, 35-32, as they continue to make costly mistakes.

A pass interference penalty moved the Riders to the Redblacks' one-yard line with 54 seconds left in regulation, allowing Saskatchewan to score the game-tying touchdown. Ottawa then had a potential game-tying field goal blocked in overtime.

Ottawa hosts the Montreal Alouettes (4-8) Friday night and remain positive despite last week's disappointment.

"We knew it was a short week and sometimes that's a blessing in disguise," said Ottawa head coach Rick Campbell. " We're limited in our preparation because it was a five-day week with travel, but it doesn't allow you to sit around and dwell on things and it's an opportunity to go out there. It's going to be a sold out crowd and it could be a fun night around here, we just have to hold up our end of the bargain."

McDonald, who was signed ten days ago, knows all about the need to put the past behind and focus on what lies ahead.

The 29-year-old defensive back was forced to accept that a future in the NFL was no longer an option and any chance of resuming his professional football career could ultimately lie in Ottawa.

McDonald spent six years in the NFL, but when no one came calling and he sat out the entire 2013 season the Collins, Miss., native knew he had some tough choices to make.

It was either walk away from the game completely or look north, and with a competitive fire still burning McDonald made his decision.

Earlier this season McDonald spent time on both the B.C. Lions and Calgary Stampeders practice rosters, but failed to make a strong enough impression to crack the game-day lineup.

Friday night McDonald will finally get his opportunity to put his skills on display as he lines up for the Redblacks.

"I know I can still play at a high level and I know I still got plenty of years left in the tank so I don't want to finish until I'm done," said McDonald. "I just want to play. Football is what I love to do; it's what I've always loved to do."

Selected by the Cleveland Browns in the fifth round of the 2007 NFL draft McDonald played 80 games with four different teams over his career, registering 216 tackles and nine interceptions.

"I was blessed to play six years in the NFL," McDonald sad. "I'm blessed to still be playing right now."

McDonald admitted his year away from the game humbled him as a man and a player and made him realize he may have taken previous opportunities for granted.

Despite his past experience, McDonald said he's feeling a little nervous as he prepares for Friday's game.

"I haven't had butterflies in my stomach for a long time so I'm really looking forward to it," he said. "I wish we could play today."

Despite last week's meltdown there was much too like about the Redblacks' game, especially from quarterback Henry Burris.

Burris and the offence finally managed to put some points on the board as they scored a season-high 32 points — two more than the Redblacks had scored in their previous four games combined. It was the first time Ottawa scored more than 20 points in a game since July 26th.

"I did a lot of investigative reporting on our team and watched a lot of film to see what could I bring to the table to help our team be more successful," said Burris. "Using my feet was definitely one of the things I concluded with. Just buying time and also putting a little fear into the defensive line's mind just so they can't just rush the pocket and I'll be there and it helped out in step one. If need be I'll do it again here in this game as well."

Burris says he's comfortable having to make quick reads and moving his feet if it can help extend plays.

It's clear from everyone on this team that individuals are willing to do whatever it takes to help this team win another game.

"I wish a win for these guys so bad," said Campbell. "With the work ethic they've shown and the way they have bought in, they should be rewarded with a win."

Unfortunately the Alouettes will be looking to put an end to their own losing streak as they are 0-5-0 outside of Montreal this season and still looking for their first road win.

"We need to start winning on the road in order to get where we want to," said Alouettes coach Tom Higgins. "This is the next step, the next progression in the Alouettes journey."

Montreal is coming off a 31-15 win over Calgary and is looking to play a smart road game.

"(Friday) you'll see a team that's disciplined, plays hard, plays physical and hopefully plays fast," said Alouettes coach Tom Higgins. "A team that gets first downs and keeps the defence on the bench."

Notes: DB Jonathan Williams will be replacing Moton Hopkins, RB Jonathan Williams will be on for D.J. Harper and McDonald replaces Jerrell Gavins. Punter Brett Maher admitted he was a little stunned to learn that he would be getting fined for hitting an opponent below the knees in last week's loss against Saskatchewan. Maher made a diving attempt to stop the Riders from scoring on a punt return and didn't realize that his actions would have a financial consequence. "That's the first and hopefully the last time I'll get fined," said Maher. "…Higgins and Campbell won a Grey Cup together in Edmonton and are close friends.

MORE:cpSports