Ellingson returns to Alouettes practice on Tuesday

Alouettes fans have patiently been waiting to catch a glimpse of Greg Ellingson in his new colours since the beginning of training camp. A lower-body injury forced him to miss most of training camp, all of the preseason, and the first 10 games of the regular season. But it looks like there could be some good news on the horizon.

The 34-year-old, who signed the team as a free agent last February, has mostly been limited to individual drills on the sidelines during practice. On Tuesday, he was working out with his teammates on the field.

“It’s tough to be (sidelined) and feel like you’re part of the guys,” Ellingson explained. “You’re in the meeting rooms and doing everything, but you’re also not on the field with the team…It’s definitely tougher mentally, but everybody supports you, coaches, front office, training staff and the guys on the team. I’m glad to be back.

“You always want to get back as fast as you can. Sometimes the mental aspect of being back quicker and thinking you’re super-human and you can fight past an injury and not take the whole timeline gets to you, but I did take the whole timeline and a couple of extra weeks. There is plenty of time left in the season. Everyone knows Labour Day is when things get going.”

This is Ellingson’s 10th season in the CFL but his first with the Alouettes. He enters this year just 13 receptions short of 600 and 450 receiving yards short of 9,000 for his career.

Even though he suited up in just eight games with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers last season, Ellingson still managed to record 38 receptions for 598 yards and three touchdowns. That would have put him on pace for 86 receptions, 1,346 yards and seven touchdowns over a full 18-game season.

How many games do the Als have remaining on their schedule? You guessed it, eight. If they can get that kind of production from the 2017 CFL All-Star, they’d take it.

Even though he hasn’t been able to contribute on the field, Ellingson has been able to help the Alouettes’ receivers.

“(He brings) leadership to the room,” head coach Jason Maas said. “They were doing receiver meetings during the first number of weeks of the season, and he was leading them and helping with those. He’s a good voice in the receiving room because he’s had a lot of experience. When they’re running routes or doing concepts that he’s familiar with, he’s able to partake in those conversations and help out, even with the coaches.”

Maas added that if Ellingson can remain healthy all week, he could suit up against the B.C. Lions on Saturday night at Percival Molson Stadium.

Roster moves:

On Tuesday morning, the Alouettes announced that they had signed Canadian defensive lineman Vincent Desjardins and Daniel Valente.

Desjardins played for the Als in 2022, and he took part in training camp in 2023, but he was released in June. The 28-year-old had one tackle in four games with Montreal last season.

“I didn’t want to think about retirement, but it wasn’t that far off,” the former Laval Rouge et Or product said after Tuesday’s practice. “The first two months of the season, you work out because you’re still in football mode, but you question why you’re still working out. The motivation isn’t always there. I’m ready and I’m always training. I’m a competitor and I’m looking forward to helping this team.”

Desjardins works as a civil engineer. He was employed by his family’s construction company in Quebec City while waiting for a CFL team to call him.

The team also released Canadian receiver Hergy Mayala. The 27-year-old had seven receptions for 118 yards in 2023.

“We looked at everything going into this week,” Maas said of Mayala’s release. “I would never look at (his dropped pass against Winnipeg), it never comes down to one play or one instance. There were some varying circumstances that led us to go in a different direction.”