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October 6, 2022

Als could get Stanback back for Monday’s game against Redblacks

Things have been going very well for the Alouettes lately. They’ve rattled off three wins in a row and five in their last six, and they could be getting a huge piece of their offence back on Monday afternoon.

On Thursday, the team announced that they had activated running back William Stanback from the six-game injured list. He’s been out of the lineup since Week 1 because of a lower-body injury he suffered against the Stampeders in Calgary. He had surgery days later and has been out ever since.

The 28-year-old was a full participant in Thursday’s practice and even took several first-team reps with the starting offence. Although he’s getting closer to a return, there’s no guarantee that he’ll be in the lineup in Monday’s game against the Redblacks.

“We need three days of good work (from him),” general manager and interim head coach Danny Maciocia said. “If on Saturday after practice or whenever he shows up Sunday, he feels good, at that point in time, if all indications are that physically and mentally, he can go, then we’ll activate him.”

Despite only playing one quarter of football so far in 2022, he’s managed to accumulate 28 yards and one touchdown. He’s also coming off a season in which he was the only 1,000 rusher in the CFL and he was the Most Outstanding Player in the East Division.

In 12 games last season, Stanback ran for 1176 yards and three touchdowns while averaging 6.1 yards per carry. No other player in the league with more than 350 yards on the ground had a higher average.

As great as he is, it wouldn’t be surprising for the Als coaching staff to ease him back in for a couple of reasons. First, he hasn’t played since June, so he won’t be able to handle a full workload right off the bat. Secondly, the Alouettes and Redblacks will be playing each other twice in less than a week (Monday and Friday). That quick of a turnaround is hard on the healthiest of players, let alone someone who hasn’t played much football this year.

“Just getting back on the same page with everybody,” Stanback said when asked about the difficulties of knocking off rust. “Things do change. A little bit of the terminology and play calling (is different), but I stuck with the playbook. Even when I was out of the lineup, I was still getting the plays and learning them to make sure that when I do come back, I’m not falling short of anything and I’m on the same page as the guys on the offensive side of the ball. Knocking off rust, it’s hard sometimes because you haven’t been running around and playing football at this speed. All I’ve been doing is running by myself on the treadmill.”

Stanback’s addition will allow the Alouettes to add one of the more punishing runners in the league, but it should also help open things up offensively, too. Earlier in the season, teams weren’t loading up the box as much because they didn’t have to stop Stanback. This would allow them to drop more defenders into coverage, which made passing the ball more difficult.

“Whenever they see 31 back there, they know they’re going to have to buckle up their chin straps and they’re going to have to make sure that they have enough bodies in the box in order for them to stop the run.

“It should open up some other things for us offensively just with his presence. Hopefully, he can have some success running the football because that’s going to open up the passing game. With our receiving core and the quarterback play as of late, that’s something that really excites us.”

The timing for his return couldn’t be better. Adding him to the mix in a game where the Als could clinch a home playoff game with a win is significant for everyone involved.

In two games against the Redblacks last season, Stanback finished with 22 carries for 157 yards, which works out to a ridiculous 7.1 yards per carry average.

“There’s not really much more to say,” Stanback added. “I’m just ready to play. I’m being asked the same questions all the time. I’m just excited to play in front of the fans again at Percival Molson Stadium.”