OTTAWA — Things were already hard enough for Ottawa quarterback Ryan Lindley without another giant hole opening up in the Redblacks' offensive line.
With starting quarterback Trevor Harris and back-up Drew Tate sidelined by injuries, the pressure lies on third-string pivot Lindley to find a way to beat the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Friday night at TD Place.
Lindley's job became tougher Thursday morning when Ottawa head coach Rick Campbell announced the Redblacks (5-8-1) would be without veteran offensive lineman SirVincent Rogers, who suffered a setback at practice Wednesday.
Already without Jon Gott and Nolan MacMillan, the Redblacks O-line will have a very different look Friday night. Jake Silas will replace Rogers, Matt Albright will be at right guard and Alex Mateas will be at centre.
Ottawa will also be without defensive back Jerrell Gavins as he hasn't cleared all the concussion protocol tests.
"We're missing some firepower this game when you put those three guys and our top two quarterbacks and the starting DB," Campbell said. "We're missing firepower, but at the same time that's why we have all these guys around here so we have guys that can step in and step up and that’s we're fully expecting people to do."
The 28-year-old Lindley was thrown into the fray when Tate was injured two weeks ago midway through a game against the Montreal Alouettes. Lindley had just one practice to prepare before he made his first start with the Redblacks last Friday — a 29-9 loss to Winnipeg.
Lindley was held to just 151 yards, going 16-for-36 in passing with one interception.
Unlike last week, Lindley was able to take advantage of two full practices to prepare for Friday's game.
"Just being able to get some reps with Greg (Ellingson) and Diontae (Spencer) was big because I haven't really had them with those guys before," Lindley said. "I feel like we'll be in a better place this Friday."
Ottawa receiver Brad Sinopoli, who needs just 79 yards to hit 1,000 for the third straight year, knows they have a tough challenge this week, but like Lindley feels they're better prepared.
"We just need to communicate out there and tell him what we see out there," Sinopoli said. "We just need to make sure we're on the same page and just make plays when he gives us the opportunity.
"If we assume that he knows what we're thinking we're wrong because he hasn't been in to have the reps to know that so we have to make sure we're always talking."
Lindley knows he'll be under pressure to get things done, but can ill afford to rush things with Saskatchewan defensive back Ed Gainey on the other side. Gainey has a league-leading eight interceptions and Lindley has no interest in helping him add to his already impressive stats.
"The biggest thing is slowing the game down and creating your own tempo," Lindley said. "At the end of the day we play quarterback and there's a pass rush and everything else, but we control how long you're going to hold on to the ball and when you're going to get it out, so as long as we have time and the offensive line is playing great we'll get that done."
The Roughriders (6-6-0) are coming off a 15-9 loss to Calgary last week and are playing the first of two games against Eastern Conference opponents. Saskatchewan is 2-4-0 on the road this season.
Roughriders quarterback Kevin Glenn said the Redblacks are much better than their record indicates and can't be overlooked regardless of who's in the lineup.
"As an offence we can't put ourselves in bad situations and give their defence opportunities to score," said Glenn. "We just want to come out and play good football and get back on the rhythm that we know we can as far as our offence is concerned and get this first one on this East coast swing."
Lisa Wallace, The Canadian Press