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Ottawa quarterback Burris all smiles regarding club's revamped receiving corps

06/02/2015 03:28 EDT | Updated 06/02/2016 05:59 EDT
OTTAWA - Henry Burris has plenty of reasons to be smiling at the Ottawa Redblacks training camp.

The Ottawa quarterback — affectionately dubbed Smilin' Hank because of his cheerful disposition — has many more weapons in his offensive arsenal following a busy off-season by GM Marcel Desjardins. Offensive struggles plagued the Redblacks' inaugural season, one that saw them manage just two wins and score a league-low 278 points.

Desjardins certainly took notice, trading for or dipping into free agency to land receivers Maurice Price, Ernest Jackson, Greg Ellingson, Brad Sinopoli and Chris Williams. The newcomers, along with Matt Carter, Khalil Paden and Marcus Henry not only boost Ottawa's receiving talent but give the club much-needed depth at the position.

"You look at the play-making ability as well as the experience and the leadership that we brought to the table, especially in our skilled positions on offence," Burris said. "It's definitely one of the steps we had to take to move forward to make ourselves that team that could compete and contend."

Williams, 27, the CFL's top rookie in 2011 with Hamilton, wasn't scared off by Ottawa's dismal 2-16 record last season.

"Each team every year is night and day different from the team before," said Williams, who played for the NFL's Chicago Bears last season. "In this league teams go from the cellar to Grey Cup champions."

Sinopoli captured a Grey Cup ring last season with Calgary but felt the Redblacks had the pieces in place to move forward. Sinopoli, who captured the Hec Crighton Trophy as Canadian university football's top player as a quarterback at Ottawa, feels the revamped receiving corps could play a significant role in the team's success.

"I think we're going to be great," said Sinopoli. "We have so many playmakers and so many fast guys.

"As long as we get all the details down and get the offence down and not be selfish I think we're going to be really good."

Dropped passes and a lack of discipline plagued the Redblacks last season but Burris has put that behind and is excited to work with this current group.

"With this type of talent, the offence we've installed and the discipline we're working hard to achieve the sky's the limit," said Burris. "With all the intangibles these guys bring to the table . . . it's only going to benefit us and the young guys we have in making our team a total and complete group."

New offensive co-ordinator Jason Maas says the team's receiving depth is significant but of more importance is the players understanding the offence and concepts being implemented.

"They need to play and play fast," said Maas. "What training camp is all about is getting the thinking done so when you get into the season you can react and react fast."

Already Williams likes what he sees in training camp and is confident the Redblacks' receivers will be able to produce.

"We're not a team right now that's where it wants to be but we're not a team that's going to sit there and rest on our laurels either," said Williams. "We definitely have all the ingredients to be a really good receiving corps, if not the best in the league."

Ottawa kicks off its exhibition schedule Monday night visiting the Hamilton Tiger Cats.

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