The last line of defense on any team is the secondary. The ones who battle receivers and do all that they can to either break up a highlight play or make one of their own by picking off the quarterback. These are the defensive players for the Montreal Alouettes that will have opposing quarterbacks earning their paycheque game in and game out.
Down the middle of this secondary you will find the other captain of this Alouettes defense in Marc-Olivier Brouillette. The current face of football in Quebec, there is simply no comparison to this talented vet. Marc-O’s play is ferocious and you won’t find a bigger gym rat than he. But his football acumen is not to be dismissed, as he has slid up and down the field in order to cause havoc and quarterbacks simply cannot take him lightly. I often wonder if this trained lawyer is this dangerous in the courtroom as well.
Backing up Brouillette is Daryl Townsend and Anthony Coady, both highly touted National players coming out of the CIS. Townsend has had some shining defensive moments and his contributions on special teams have no equal. But you know that he’s wanting more time on the field and he’ll give Brouillette a run for his money. Coady has championship experience with the Universite de Montreal and will look to continue paying his dues in this secondary. Small but explosive, his speed comes in very handy when it comes to dropping down in coverage and disrupting plays
The leaders of this group are Billy Parker and Dominique Ellis. One is a grizzled veteran, one is a hungry young lion. Both are outstanding playmakers and are able to turn the ball over for Montreal. So good is Ellis that the Alouettes were content to let long-time DB Jerald Brown leave the nest to sign with Toronto. While Parker is not a young man anymore, his talent and ability to pick off opposing QBs has few equals. I think having Ellis patrol the field alongside him with reinvigorate Billy and this tandem could very well be setting all kinds of records for Montreal in 2016.
Backing these two up are young Nationals Andrew Lue and Maiko Zepeda. Lue had a great rookie campaign in 2014 but was slowed by injuries last season. He’ll be looking to bounce back with his play on special teams and stake his claim in the Alouettes secondary as well. Zepeda, much like Anthony Coady before him, played championship football for the U de Mtl Carabins and he really impressed at the regional CFL combine this past March. He will be a project player for this defense and will get a lot of looks starting tomorrow in camp.
One of the newest additions to the Montreal Alouettes secondary is a bona-fide leader with Grey Cup experience. Jovon Johnson led the Ottawa RedBlacks and their heralded “D-Block” defensive corps to a Grey Cup appearance and damn near won the championship. Being able to add a player like that to this team is a blessing for both Jim Popp and Noel Thorpe, as he can mentor the youth both on and off the field. While all the members of Johnson’s crew in Ottawa are formidable players, it remains to be seen just how good they will be without this skilled veteran guiding them.
Playing on the other corner will be Mitchell White, who has grown better and better with each passing season. His talent cannot be denied, as he received a number of workouts with NFL teams in hopes of joining his brother Miles on an NFL squad. In the end, he re-upped with Montreal and that will only mean more potential INTs and aggressive playmaking from this former Michigan State Spartan. Much like Duron Carter, I expect Mitchell to use this league to showcase his talents for scouts down south and would not be surprised if he ends up finally joining his bro in the NFL once the CFL season ends.
So there you have it, a very talented defense that will not only keep the Alouettes in games, but will likely steal a few victories as well. The final part of this season preview will showcase who will star on special teams and wrap up this rather lenghthy series.