Montreal Alouettes Pre-Season: Where is the Competition?

With the Montreal Alouettes pre-season about to kick-off in Quebec City on Saturday against the Ottawa Redblacks, it’s worth taking a look at the biggest headlines and the key position battles for the team.


The offence has the most competition in this training camp. Quaterbacks, running backs and receivers are all fighting for spots while the offensive line is as good and as stable as it was last year.

Former Arizona Cardinals QB John Skelton was released early in camp as there are six other, younger pivots battling for the starting role. Jon Crompton won the role last year and will likely be the starter come June 25 when the Redblacks visit but the five others will look to be his back-up and the man to come in, should he fail early on in the season.

The battle will revolve around Dan LeFevour, newly acquired by Montreal after years in backup in Hamilton, and Tanner Marsh, heading into his third year with the Als, coming off a fantastic season as the short-yardage quarterback. Both will get playing time in the pre-season games and it will be interesting to see if last year’s third-string QB Marsh can move up the depth chart while maintaining his short-yardage role against an injury-prone LeFevour.

Running back Brandon Whitaker returned from yet another injury suffered last season and has his name pencilled in as the number one back, but there is plenty of depth at the position for the Alouettes. Tyrell Sutton and Brandon Rutley both played in Whitaker’s absence last season and are in direct competition with each other. Newly signed Stefan Logan and returnee Chris Rainey are capable of handling the duties in the backfield but are also battling to be the team’s returner, an area in which the team was weak last season.

The acquisition of three veteran receivers in Nik Lewis, Fred Stamps and Sam Giguere to replace Duron Carter has caused some serious talent clashes at the receiver and slotback positions. S.J. Green and his spanking new contract are leading the way, but like with the quarterbacks and running backs, the competition lies within the second, third and fourth spots on the depth chart.

Draft picks Mikael Davidson and Alex Charette are looking to crack the team against other young receivers in players like Cody Hoffman, Kyle Graves and Dobson Collins. With an experienced-heavy top four at the receiver position, don’t expect many young players to make the 44-man roster.

The Headline Makers

The defence doesn’t need much talking about as continuity has crept in from last season and the birds of prey in Bear Woods, John Bowman, Chip Cox, Winston Venable and Kyries Hebert will maintain their swagger from last season and terrorize offences across the league. But two players have been heavily talked about, possibly too much for rookies – even my last two pieces covered them.  Michael Sam and Chris Ackie have different reasons to steal headlines but both will face the same consequence should they not perform their best in the training camp and pre-season games: they risk being cut from the team.

Ackie missed the rookie camp due to a contract dispute and only reported during the second day of the actual camp. Much is expected from the first-round defensive back draft pick and he needs to prove to the football world that he was worth the wait.

As discussed here, Ackie is extremely athletic and can be a star in this league if he puts his mind to it. The DB depth in Montreal is thinning and it’s Ackie’s time to claim his position in Montreal during the pre-season games.

Sam finally chose to sign with the Alouettes after failing to land a starting job with the St Louis Rams, the Dallas Cowboys and finally, at the NFL Veteran Combine. A “tweener” down south (too small for a defensive end but too slow for a linebacker), Sam’s physical size and talent niche could be ideal for the Alouettes d-line, next to another tweener, Bowman.

Reports suggested that Sam started camp a bit rusty but he eventually caught up with the pace and rules of the CFL game. He will be under high scrutiny from the media and management during the pre-season games.

Between the Uprights

It’s been a while since the Alouettes saw a true contest between kickers in camp, but former Laval Rouge et Or kicker Boris Bede is giving the veteran Sean Whyte some competition. Bede had a powerful leg with the Rouge et Or and was one of the best in the CIS at his position and has translated his skills into the CFL. With the extra point now set at the 32 yard line, the value of kickers has risen and Higgins will pay extra attention to two men’s kicks and punts in the coming days and warm-up games.

Many positions are still to be won during the Montreal Alouettes pre-season games and fans should pay attention to the competition while watching the pre-season games.

LWOS will follow the Montreal Alouettes and the league from the first kick-off to when the Grey Cup is hoisted in Winnipeg. Weekly power rankings, predictions and analysis & opinion pieces will be made available to you, our loyal reader. Leave your comments below, and follow or tweet me @LWOSNick. Enjoy the upcoming CFL season! 


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