Young Alouettes roster battles in Ottawa

The Alouettes dropped a 19-13 decision to the Ottawa Redblacks at TD Place on Friday night. Yes, the Als lost, but they put together a gutsy effort against a Redblacks squad that started most of their starters for three quarters during this game.

So, which players stood out?

Let’s start with veteran defensive back Najee Murray, who missed most of last season with an upper-body injury. Murray was able to snag a deflected pass from Redblacks quarterback Dru Brown in the first half.

The 30-year-old missed a good chunk of training camp, the intra-squad game, and last week’s preseason opener against Toronto, so it was important for him to get some live-fire snaps in before the start of the regular season.

“I can’t lie to you, man, it was amazing and surreal (to be back on the field),” Murray admitted. “The game can always be taken away from you just like that…It’s been about 10 months since I’ve played football. To be out here, to run around with the guys and to play Alouettes football, it was a blessing, and it was amazing.”

Let’s stay with the secondary.

Bryce Cosby played very well, again. Fans may remember that he had a pick-six in the team scrimmage. The first-year player seemed to always be around the ball. He’s lined up at different positions in the secondary and at strong-side linebacker, so he’s shown some versatility, too.

“I might be a little biased because he’s from the Mid-American Conference (MAC) and I’m from the Mid-American Conference, so I love to see him do that,” Murray said of Cosby’s ability to make plays. “When we come from the MAC, we have a little chip on our shoulders and a little grit. This guy has come in and played multiple positions, he’s quick, he’s a fast learner, and he can play football. I was proud that he came here and showed that against (Ottawa’s starters). He did a phenomenal job, and his future should be bright.”

Along the defensive line, Jordan Domineck had a strong game. In the first quarter alone, he had a hit on the quarterback, and he managed to knock a ball down at the line of scrimmage.

On offence, Charleston Rambo did it again. He made three catches for 67 yards, including one of 39 yards down the right sideline. He was also able to draw back-to-back pass-interference calls in the end zone late in the game. All in all, he had a terrific training camp. He made play after play in all three game situations, as he was outstanding in both preseason contests and the intra-squad match.

“When you play against me, you’re going to have to play really hard,” Rambo said after Friday’s game.

“Whenever there’s a ball in the air, I feel like it’s my ball. Regardless of pass interference or anything, it was made to be mine.”

Quarterback James Morgan got an extended look, as he played the final three quarters of this game. Morgan threw an interception but showed off a high football IQ and a strong arm in the first real action of his CFL career.

“I think you look at something like this, and there are a lot of lessons to be learned,” said Morgan. “It was great to be out there. Huge shoutout to everybody. That was the crew we were working with throughout camp, and we came out and played hard today.”

On special teams, Tyjon Lindsey flashed his big-play ability in the return game. He was dynamic with the ball in his hands, and he was able to show off some burst. He also caught two passes for 15 yards.

The Alouettes will have to finalize their roster before midnight on Sunday. They’ll hit the practice on Sunday afternoon for the first time as a complete squad. The Als will open the regular season on Thursday against the Blue Bombers in Winnipeg.