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February 2, 2023

‘There’s a lot of unfinished business’: Worthy enters 2023 with chip on shoulder

Worthy, Chandler #30 of the Montreal Alouettes

Alouettes kick returner Chandler Worthy put together an impressive 2022 campaign. After being released by the Toronto Argonauts last May, Worthy was quickly snatched up by the Als. He fit in like a glove, and the Als rewarded him with a two-year contract on Wednesday. He was so good that he was named the top special teams player in the East Division, but there were some things that didn’t sit well with him when he looked back at last season.

“The whole ending to the season was kind of sour for me,” Worthy admitted from his home in Austin, Texas. “There were accolades and there were a lot of good things that came my way, but I didn’t reach my goal of winning a Grey Cup Championship. I didn’t reach my goal of winning the best (special teams player) in the league. I fell short in my expectations for myself.”

The 29-year-old expects more from himself and his team. That much is clear. But the season the Als put together on special teams needs to be acknowledged. They led the league in big play returns, with 13 (30+ yard returns on missed field goals and punts, and 40+ yard returns on kickoffs). They also allowed just five big play returns all season. The entire unit, including Worthy, played very well.

He also managed to become the primary returner even though Mario Alford, who won the Most Outstanding Special Teams player award in 2022, started the season on the Als roster. Worthy’s performances allowed the Als to acquire a draft pick from the Saskatchewan Roughriders for Alford. It also allowed them to save on Alford’s cap hit.

But to his point, there is still work that needs to be done. That’s a big reason why he decided to come back to Montreal on a multi-year deal.

Worthy had been approached by as many as three teams from the USFL and XFL. He was expecting even more interest to materialize once his highlight tape from 2022 was completed. In the end, he decided to stay with an organization he was familiar with and one that appreciated him as a player and as a person.

“I knew that if I was going to come back to Canada, I wanted to play for Montreal,” he said.

“Talking to (GM) Danny [Maciocia], (director of pro personnel) JM [Edme], and coach (Byron) Archambault, they all expressed that they wanted me back, and they wanted me to be part of the future of this franchise. It’s always hard to turn down going somewhere where you’re wanted. For me, it’s all about doing this again because there is still a lot of unfinished business for us all.”

Could we see Worthy on offence a lot more often in 2023?

Worthy was able to get on the field for a few offensive snaps in 2022 but not many. After a good conversation with new head coach Jason Maas a couple of weeks ago, he says that there’s a good chance that he will line up at receiver more often than he did one year ago.

“Yes, I was told that I’d be getting some more (snaps on offence),” Worthy said. “I’m definitely going to keep my fingers crossed (laughs).

“I think I can bring explosive plays to the offence, like I do on special teams. I feel that special teams has been the weakest part of my game. I have studied it enough to get to the point where it has become something great, but I haven’t really been able to show what I can really do on offence. I feel like I can take over a game as well.

“I had a talk with coach (Maas). He said that as long as I’m committed to learning all the positions and all the plays, he’s definitely open to it.”

Raheem Wilson returns

In other Als news…

On Thursday, the team announced that they have re-signed veteran defensive back Raheem Wilson to a one-year contract.

Wilson was signed by the Alouettes last August after he was released by the Calgary Stampeders. The 29-year-old had been in Calgary since 2019.

He made 20 defensive tackles in seven starts with the Als in 2022.