Preseason Preview: Fajardo won’t suit up against Redblacks

It’s the moment we have all been waiting for…kind of!

Friday night’s game at TD Place in Ottawa is the first preseason game of 2023 for the Alouettes. The game might not count in the standings, but it’s most fans’ opportunity to watch the players in action. It’s also an incredibly important matchup for a lot of the rookies who are looking to lock down a spot on the active roster.

Fans in Quebec will be able to watch this game on RDS, while those outside the province will be able to stream the game on CFL Preseason Live.

Here’s everything you need to know about this exhibition game against Ottawa:

Cody Fajardo won’t be in uniform:

As you’d expect, many veterans and established starters won’t be in the lineup for this game. There are a couple of reasons for that.

First, you don’t want a key player getting hurt in the first preseason game of the year. Second, the coaches want to see some of the newcomers play a lot so that they can get a proper evaluation of them against a real opponent.

Those waiting to see Fajardo make his Alouettes debut will have to wait a little while longer.

Former Redblack Caleb Evans will get the start on Friday night. The 24-year-old was signed in free agency last February. This will be his first visit to Ottawa since signing with Montreal.

“I’m just taking it one game at a time (laughs),” said Evans about facing his former team. “When we see them in the regular season, when it counts, that’s when we’ll be ready for them.

“It might be a little weird being on the visitors side this time, especially after two years over there. I know all the guys over there. It’s going to be weird. Do I make (trash) to them, or do I say: ‘what’s up’?”

Davis Alexander and Mike Glass III will also get reps at quarterback in this game.

Some of the other players that won’t play on Friday night include Tyson Philpot, Greg Ellingson, William Stanback, Kristian Matte, Landon Rice, Kaion Julien-Grant, Marc-Antoine Dequoy, Avery Williams, Almondo Sewell, Mustafa Johnson, Wesley Sutton and Ciante Evans.

A great opportunity for Canadian rookies:

Young Canadian players will also get more snaps than they’d typically receive in a regular season game.

This matchup against the Redblacks will be especially important for 2023 eight-round pick Maxym Lavallee, who will be putting on the Als uniform for the first time.

Lavallee, who grew up in nearby Gatineau and who played his USports football at the University of Laval, will have plenty of friends and family in attendance for his first professional game.

Eighth-rounders are far from being locks to make their respective football rosters, but the Alouettes have uncovered gems in the late rounds over the last few years. In 2020, they selected Manitoba defensive lineman Brock Gowanlock in the final round. In 2022, they chose Western defensive back Zach Lindley. Both players played an important role on special teams last year, and both are still on the roster.

“(Lindley) arrived last year and he did really well on special teams,” Lavallee said. “That’s exactly what I have to do. My number one goal is to do well (on special teams). Zach is a great example. He’s a really good guy and we talk all the time. I’m looking forward to showing what I can do.

Rookies to watch:

I realize that most fans haven’t been able to watch as many practices as I have in training camp, so I’ll fill you in on some the newcomers you should keep an eye on in this first preseason game.

  • 81 – Austin Mack – WR:
    Mack has had a terrific camp and he was equally as impressive during last Saturday’s scrimmage at Stade Diablos. The 25-year-old played his NCAA football at Ohio State University, so he will be used to playing in front of bigger crowds. He’s a big body with solid leaping ability. Don’t be surprised if he makes an impressive catch or two against the Redblacks.
  • 85 – Tyler Snead – WR:
    Snead and Mack are both receivers, but that’s where the similarities end. The former East Carolina Pirate is a smaller/quicker receiver that uses crisp route running to get open down the field. He’ll be used as a kick-returner in this game, too, because Chandler Worthy won’t be playing.
  • 38 – Kabion Ento – DB:
    It’s hard to make a good impression as a defensive player during an intra-squad game, but Ento did that. He made two impressive interceptions last Saturday, and his solid play continued in practice all week. He played wide receiver in college, but converted to defensive back when he turned pro. He spent four seasons with the Green Bay Packers.
  • 44 – Bryce Notree – LB:
    Notree is a ball of energy both on and off the field. He’s also been one of the more consistent newcomers on defence. The linebacker plays a physical brand of football, and he should receive quite a bit of playing time on defence with projected starter Avery Williams not suiting up at middle linebacker.
  • 96 – Lwal Uguak – DL:
    The Alouettes selected Uguak in the first round, seventh overall, in this month’s CFL Draft. He arrived at camp a few days late because he was invited to rookie minicamps with the NFL’s New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons, but he has fit in perfectly since signing with the Als. He’ll get plenty of opportunities to chase the quarterback.