May 30, 2024

MTL @ OTT – Preseason Game 2: Pregame Notes

The Montreal Alouettes will wrap up their training camp and preseason on Friday night in Ottawa as they’ll take on the REDBLACKS at 7:00 p.m. ET. The Als will then kick off the regular season in Winnipeg on Thursday night.

Here’s what you need to know about this final exhibition tilt:


The Alouettes will use this preseason game to feature most of their young players. Starting quarterback Cody Fajardo won’t suit up at all. He looked sharp in last week’s preseason game against the Toronto Argonauts, and he had a terrific training camp. There’s no reason for the team to risk an injury to their starting quarterback so close to the start of the season.

“I feel like I’m ready for the season,” Fajardo explained earlier this week. “I don’t need anymore reps, personally. “There are some other (quarterbacks) that need to be evaluated as well. Giving those guys an opportunity (is important).”

CFL teams will typically play their starters less in the first exhibition game but more in the second, but the Alouettes are in a tricky situation. Because there is less than a full week between the Ottawa and Winnipeg games, the team needs to manage the snaps of starters get on the road this week.

“The two games are very close together, so I think we’ll have to focus on our mental preparation more than physical preparation,” running back Sean Thomas Erlington said on Wednesday. “The physical preparation has been done over the last three weeks. We have to make sure we make the right adjustments and that we’re ready to play a good team.”

Thomas Erlington, Jeshrun Antwi and Walter Fletcher won’t play. Stevie Scott III and Canadian Michael Herzog will be the two running backs on the roster.

With Fajardo out, the team will get extended looks at Caleb Evans and Davis Alexander once again, but they could opt to play James Morgan, too. Morgan was a fourth-round pick of the New York Jets back in 2020, and he’s been with the Alouettes throughout training camp this year.

Evans and Alexander looked like they were in mid-season form against the Argonauts on Saturday, as both showed impressive poise and play-making ability. These are important reps for the backup quarterbacks because there’s no guarantee they’ll see the field again anytime soon.

“It’s decision-making,” Maas said about what he’s looking for from his quarterbacks in preseason. “That’s ultimately the biggest thing in quarterback play, it’s about who makes the best decisions when they’re out there. Accuracy, toughness, and all that comes into play. I’ve never been shy to say that a quarterback needs to show he’s smart, accurate, and tough.”

How much each quarterback gets to play remains to be seen. Last week, we saw Evans and Alexander come in and out of the game on several occasions.

This will be an important game for many young players, especially with several veterans not suiting up. Two of those players that grew up near Ottawa are receiver Nicholas Gendron and defensive back Maxym Lavallee, who are both from Gatineau, Quebec.
Lavallee, who is in his second training camp with the Alouettes, is competing for one of the backup spots at safety behind Marc-Antoine Dequoy.

Gendron, meanwhile, is trying to make a name for himself after not being selected in the 2024 CFL Draft last month.

“I was nervous during last Saturday’s game,” admitted Gendron. “I enjoyed and I had fun. When I was on the field – I played at the end of the fourth quarter – it was just like any other game. It was the same rules, the same plays we ran in practice. I just wanted to enjoy the moment. I’m really looking forward this week’s game, and I’m hoping that I’m going to get some playing time.

According to the team’s depth chart, Gendron will be starting at one of the interior receiver spots.

The other four starting receiver spots will all be occupied by rookies. Charleston Rambo, who led the team in receiving yards last week with 71, will be in the starting lineup with Tyjon Lindsey, Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman, Jose Barbon and Gendron.

On defence, expect to see a defensive line made up of almost all rookies, as Jordan Domineck, Ifeanyi Maijeh, Jayson Ademilola, and Kivon Bennett will get the start.
Veterans suiting up on defence include Najee Murray and Nafees Lyon, who both missed most of last season due to injury, and Dionte Ruffin.

This year’s first-rounder Geoffrey Cantin-Arku will start at middle linebacker.
2024 third-round pick Arthur Hamlin, who is from Ottawa, will get the start at safety.