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Sports With playoff fate set, Alouettes expected to rest some starters against Ticats

22:45  25 october  2019
22:45  25 october  2019 Source:

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a baseball player holding a bat© Provided by Canadian Press Enterprises Inc

MONTREAL — A watered-down Alouettes roster going up against the league-best Tiger-Cats is evidence that Montreal is slowly shifting its attention to the CFL playoffs.

As much as they want to prove themselves versus Hamilton, the Als are expected to rest several players Saturday afternoon in the penultimate game of the regular season – a potential East final preview.

Both the Ticats (13-3) and Alouettes (9-7) have already clinched first and second place in the East Division.

"The biggest thing for me is we just want to play good football and win the football game," said Alouettes coach Khari Jones on Thursday. "The other stuff, if guys are banged up and we feel like we need to rest them, we'll rest them. I'm very confident in the players we have in that room.

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"I try not to talk about anything other than winning this football game."

Montreal's desire to win is overshadowed by some key roster decisions. Players who are nursing minor injuries did not practise much — or at all — this week, with coach Jones erring on the side of caution.

Linebacker Henoc Muamba, running back William Stanback, cornerback Tommie Campbell and receiver DeVier Posey will not face Hamilton. Punt return specialist Mario Alford is unlikely to play.

Second-string running back Jeremiah Johnson and practice-squad receiver Dante Absher will carry some of that load in their absence.

Quarterback Vernon Adams Jr., will start the game but Jones did not rule out the possibility of letting backups Matthew Shiltz and Antonio Pipkin take some snaps. The flow of the game will dictate when to pull Adams, said the Alouettes coach.

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"These guys have been patiently waiting their time," said Jones of his many backups. "It's a process. You always need those next guys that if something happens, they're ready to go. We feel like we have that."

Montreal's reduced roster is taking into consideration its East semifinal clash with the Edmonton Eskimos on Nov. 10. The winner will face the Tiger-Cats in the East final the following week.

That's too far away for wide receiver Eugene Lewis, who desperately wants to snap Hamilton's four-game winning streak on Saturday. Lewis is 17 receiving yards shy of 1,000 on the season.

"Our goal is to win," said Lewis, who has never reached the 1,000-yard mark. "We want to go out there, execute and play to the best of our abilities regardless of who's playing, regardless of who they have playing. That's our mindset.

"I'm confident in the team I'm on right now. The sky's the limit for us."

The Tiger-Cats are looking to keep building upon a record-setting season. Hamilton reached 13 wins for the first time in franchise history following a 33-12 victory over Ottawa last week.

Lucky 13 as Tiger-Cats rout Redblacks for franchise record win total

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Much of the success is due to quarterback Dane Evans, who stepped in for injured starter Jeremiah Masoli (left knee) at the end of July. Evans has started 11 straight games and threw for a season-high 452 yards last week.

The highly versatile Ticats offence leads the league in points for (492), total yards (6,285) and offensive touchdowns (43).

Hamilton is playing equally well on defence, leading the CFL in points against (300) while conceding a league-low 28 touchdowns. Linebacker Simoni Lawrence leads the league with 91 tackles while defensive end Ja'Gared Davis ranks second with 12 sacks.

"It's about keeping what we have going," Evans told the team's website this week. "You can say that it doesn't mean anything, or we're just going to play when the East final comes, but when we step in between those white lines, we're going to be ready to play. And I think they will be too.

"This one's an important game on our schedule."


Saturday, Percival Molson Stadium

TIEBREAKER: Montreal and Hamilton have split the season series, with each team winning its home game. The Ticats won 41-10 on June 28 before the Alouettes returned the favour 36-29 the following week.

GOING HOME: Ticats running back Tyrell Sutton will face his former team for the first time in his career. Sutton spent six seasons with Montreal from 2013 to 2018 before being traded to the B.C. Lions.

VETERAN TARGET: Hamilton receiver Luke Tasker (hamstring) will play for the first time since Aug. 17 against the Redblacks. The 28-year-old is in his seventh CFL season, all with the Ticats.

SEASON FINALE: The Alouettes conclude their regular season at Ottawa next week while Hamilton hosts the Toronto Argonauts.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 25, 2019.

Kelsey Patterson, The Canadian Press

Fajardo, Evans and Adams Jr. have all emerged as CFL stars this season .
Cody Fajardo, Dane Evans and Vernon Adams Jr. have made 2019 the year of the backup CFL quarterback. All three began the season as backups but when opportunity knocked, they answered the call and have become emerging CFL stars heading into the 2019 playoffs. "That's the beauty of sports, you don't really know what you have until these guys get an opportunity to show what they can do," said Khari Jones, the Montreal Alouettes' rookie head coachAll three began the season as backups but when opportunity knocked, they answered the call and have become emerging CFL stars heading into the 2019 playoffs.

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