You know who will be throwing the ball in 2016 for the Montreal Alouettes. Now it’s time to meet the recipients of said ball! Despite all of the woes on offense last season for Montreal, there were some bright spots and with the knowledge that a veteran like Kevin Glenn is behind centre this year, this Alouettes team can only get better.
It seems hard to believe, but the Montreal Alouettes had the league’s leading rusher in the lineup last season! Tyrell Sutton has made this team his own and has literally run all over the competition, posting an incredible 1059 yards rushing and besting such talented backs as Andrew Harris, Jon Cornish and Jerome Messam.
His speed and power on such a small frame makes Sutton a true force to be reckoned with. Tyrell has made Montreal his home and he will be leading the charge from the backfield for quite some time.
Not to be outdone is Brandon Rutley, who has also had some flashes of brilliance in an otherwise lackluster season. Rutley is just a bit lighter than Sutton and can turn on the jets at a moment’s notice. He also had good receiver’s hands and notched a pair of TDs last season when no one was able to catch him sprinting to the end zone.
You often see him more on kick returns, but Stefan Logan is no slouch when he is given the rock to carry. Don’t let his age fool you; you’d never believe this bolt of lightning is in his mid-30s! Logan gives the Alouettes that dangerous threat on special teams and shows no signs of stopping.
Also featured on the ground attack is Jean-Christophe Beaulieu, a powerful young man who gets better and better every time he steps onto the field. He scored his first touchdown last season and I expect a lot more this year. I had said that Montreal’s coaching staff would be wise to use Beaulieu’s size on goal line stands; perhaps this will be the season that happens.
Joining the backfield is National rookie Wayne Moore, who will have to show out in order to get reps from the two established tailbacks. Where Moore will likely get playing time is on kick returns, where he would have a great mentor in Logan.
These are the stars of the show, the ones who make the jaw-dropping catches that get everyone out of their seats. When the QB heaves the ball skyward, these are the men who will be targeted.
The undisputed leader of the receiving corps is S.J. Green, who leads by example year in and year out. Catching passes from seven different quarterbacks last year proved one unquestionable truth from Green; It doesn’t matter who is throwing the ball, Soloman Junior will catch it or die trying. I expect another All-Star year from S.J. in 2016.
Joining him will be the returning Duron Carter, who is out to prove that he deserves to be mentioned among the very best in the league and beyond. Carter only had a taste of the NFL life and decided that playing full-time up north was a far better option to advance his career. He’ll get that chance again in Montreal and I think he will bring out the best in S.J. Green as well as they will compete for yards and touchdowns.
Keeping it all in the family and also making a return to La Belle Province is Duron’s cousin Kenny Stafford. Last year, this young man came into his own and was a true star for the Edmonton Eskimos. His field presence and leadership proved crucial and he was able to lay claim to the Grey Cup championship. Stafford won’t be content just being the other guy lining up with Duron and S.J.; Kenny will be looking to build on his championship year and beyond.
Another guy with redemption on his mind is Nik Lewis, who was on a mission with Montreal last season after being cast aside by the Calgary Stampeders. Thick Nik made his presence felt and was a threat every time he caught the ball. Despite not looking like your typical slotback, Lewis has that remarkable ability of not being tackled easily. I lost count how many times Nik bowled defenders over or dragged them along with him towards the first down marker. There’s a reason that they refer to this guy as a bowling ball!
Last season was a homecoming for Quebec-born Samuel Giguere and it started out slowly, as the offensive schemes just didn’t seem to gel with his abilities. Then a light went off and the coaching staff finally utilized Sam effectively on fly sweeps, putting his size and speed to great use. When he is used correctly, Giguere can be an offensive threat and will keep the chains moving.
With all of these veterans, it’s easy to forget that Montreal has some young receivers that will be looking to stake their claim as well. Last season saw both B.J. Cunningham and Alex Charette each make some great strides and put together respectable rookie campaigns. I can see both of these youngsters pushing the established guys further as they seek to prove that their success was no fluke.
You also have to keep an eye on Cody Hoffman, whose rookie year was cut short with injuries. He will be raring to go and looking to avoid the dreaded sophomore jinx. Two more names to consider are Chandler Jones and Jerry Rice, Jr. (yes, son of THAT Jerry Rice!) Jones had a spectacular training camp last year and earned a spot on the practice roster while Rice was a late addition to the team last year. Both have been making a lot of noise and could very well be the hidden surprises for Montreal as camp gets underway.
There is a lot of young National talent as well that will be itching to get reps. Names like Andrew Smith, Mikhail Davidson, George Johnson and A-Dre Fraser immediately spring to mind. Smith has had some great moments in camp the past few seasons but injuries have slowed his progress. The others are still unproven and will need to make the most of their limited reps in camp.
All this talent is great, but let’s not forget that it’s the big lugs in front that help make it all happen. Next up, the Offensive Line!