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OTTAWA — It’s finally Duck season for the Ottawa Redblacks.
Devlin Hodges, who got the nickname Duck for his prowess at duck calling while playing college football at Samford, will be making his first career CFL start Saturday as the Redblacks host the Toronto Argonauts in Ottawa's final home game of the season.
The Redblacks signed Hodges back in September, but the former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback has appeared in just one game completing eight of 16 passes for 49 yards in a relief appearance two weeks ago against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
“He’s been here a month, he’s had enough reps in practice, and he’s got some tools that are impressive so we want to give him an opportunity to see if we can generate more offensively,” Redblacks coach Paul LaPolice explained.
“If he wasn’t showing things in practice that impressed us we’re not making this decision. Then you evaluate the game. Is he making good decision, is he throwing it blindly. Those are game evaluations.”
Hodges started six games for the Steelers in 2019, compiling a 3-3 record while completing 100 of 160 passes for five touchdowns. He also threw eight interceptions. He found out Thursday that he would be making the start Saturday, taking over for Caleb Evans who had started the previous six games.
“There’s definitely a lot of excitement. This is a great group of guys, great teammates, great coaches. Now that I know I’m going to (start) there’s a lot of excitement and I’m ready to get out there,” Hodges said.
“It’s OK to be excited. It’s OK to go out there and have fun and jump around. That’s what I’m going to do, I’m going to go out there and have fun and try to put our team the best position and best situation to win the game.”
Over the past few games the fans have been chanting “Duck” and attempting their best duck calls in the stands. Hodges has heard them but was not necessarily impressed.
“I definitely notice it, especially when it’s people who don’t really know how to blow the duck calls. It sounds terrible and I’ll give them a look, man that sounds awful,” Hodges said.
“But it’s fun and it’s always cool to bring some kind of excitement and some kind of joy to people in the stadium. I’m sure I’m going to hear it tomorrow. I’ve got some hunting buddies coming up and they’re going to bring duck calls and what not. It’s going to be fun and it will probably make me feel a little more comfortable and play better.”
The Redblacks will also get several bodies back from injury, including receiver and kick return specialist DeVonte Dedmon, who was injured in a game against the Montreal Alouettes on Oct. 16.
Before his ankle injury, Dedmon had over 1,600 yards and two touchdowns on kick and punt returns over two seasons.
“He’s such an electrifying player. His energy brings everybody up, whether it be in the stands or his teammates, so we’re excited to have him back,” LaPolice said.
The Redblacks (2-10) are currently on their second five-game losing streak of the season. They have a bye next week before closing out their season Nov. 19 in Montreal
“We just want to go play hard and play our best game,” LaPolice said.
The Argonauts (7-4) are in first place in the East Division and have a two-point lead over both Hamilton and Montreal. They host Hamilton and Edmonton over the final two weeks.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 5, 2021.
Darren Desaulniers, The Canadian Press