October 12, 2022

Preview: Alouettes will face Redblacks for second time this week

The Alouettes have another opportunity to clinch a home playoff date on Friday night. They can do so by beating the Redblacks in Ottawa. The Als are coming off a disappointing home defeat to these same Redblacks on Monday.

Here’s everything you need to go heading into this matchup:

Injury Update:

On Wednesday, general manager and interim head coach Danny Maciocia announced that receiver Reggie White Jr. and centre Sean Jamieson are done for the season. Both players suffered injuries on Monday.

Jamieson is in his fifth year with the team. The 28-year-old missed three games earlier this year due to a knee injury he suffered in a home game against Saskatchewan earlier this season. He was limited to eight games in 2021.

White Jr. has been a fixture in the starting lineup since the beginning of the season. The 26-year-old is second on the team in receptions (53), targets (73), and receiving yards (722).

These injuries will be difficult to overcome, but the team has quality depth that they can lean on.

New-look offensive line:

P.O. Lestage has taken over at left guard over the last three weeks because of the injury to Phil Gagnon. The former Carabins hasn’t looked out of place one bit. The loss of Jamieson will force another change on the line, of course.

Expect David Brown to slot in as the starting center on Friday night. The 28-year-old has suited up in every game this season, and he replaced Jamieson in the starting lineup for three games. Brown also served as the Als’ starter at centre late last season when Jamieson was out of the lineup.

“(The backup) players are all close to getting on the field,” Maciocia said on Wednesday. “It’s like I always say, it’s not a 45-man roster that’s going to determine the kind of season we’re going to have. We’ll likely use 60, 62 or even 64 different players that will dress for at least one game.”

So, don’t expect the ratio to change on the offensive line. It looks like they’ll continue to play four Canadians and one American up front.

Will the Als start three Canadian receivers?

It’s entirely possible.

After White Jr. came out of the game in the first quarter, Tyson Philpot got more reps with the starting offence. According to Maciocia, it’s possible that they use that formula again on Friday night, but they could also opt for one of the American players on the practice roster.

Philpot has looked good in different situations. He’s made big plays as a receiver, as a returner, and he’s made key blocks on special teams.

The 22-year-old has 26 receptions for 327 yards and two touchdowns on the season. He had four catches for 48 yards against Ottawa on Monday.

“I’ll go all the way back to training camp. He got hurt in the very first padded practice, and he was on the sidelines for like 10 days,” receivers coach Mike Lionello said of Philpot. “His very first day back, Hergy (Mayala) was out of the practice, and (Philpot) was with the starters, and he lit practice up.

“The attitude he has, the physicality he plays with, it’s really special for a rookie. It’s incredible.”

Mayala and Kaion Julien-Grant have been in the starting lineup for every game this season. Each one of the three Canadian receivers brings something different to the table, but they’ve all found a way to contribute throughout the season.

“They can beat you vertically,” Maciocia said of his Canadian receivers. “You have a little bit of everything there. Kaion can stretch you vertically. He’ll catch some of those screens too and he’ll knife it (up the field). He’s had a couple of touchdowns on that particular play. You have Mayala that can run good routes. He can line up as an outside guy, he can line up as an inside guy with a waggle. He’s got above-average hands. He’s a guy you can move from the short side of the field to the wide side as an inside receiver or outside receiver. And Philpot is dynamic every time he touches the ball. He’s got that short area burst

The American options include Cole Spieker, who has been on the practice roster for most of the year, or Jon’Vea Johnson, who was signed on Aug. 8.

More work for Stanback:

Star running back William Stanback made his long-awaited return to the lineup on Monday. He finished with eight carries for 20 yards. He also went long stretches without seeing the field, which was expected given the length of his absence.

If all goes well, you can expect him to get more touches on Friday night. It also sounds like the team wants to keep Walter Fletcher on the active roster.

“We’re going to increase his workload,” Maciocia said. “I don’t think we’re going to have him out there for the whole football game. We’d like to have the same number of running backs on the roster, and if we’re going to do that then I want to maximize the ability to use Fletcher and (Jeshrun) Antwi also. Will came out of the last game sore, but it’s the typical soreness you get after football games. I think he’s much more confident going into this one than he was going into Monday’s game because he hadn’t been hit for the longest time.”