2018 Training Camp Tidbits – Week Two

After failing to score a single touchdown in their 27-7 preseason loss to the Ottawa RedBlacks, it was made clear that the Montreal Alouettes still have a lot more work to do. They were back at it this week for more training camp sessions in Montreal.

The one constant that has shone through in every single player that I have spoken with is this team’s chemistry. There’s a lot of camaraderie in this 2018 group and spirits are very high. There are stars on this team, but no real superstars that are above the others. The idea of this team being a family is a valued one as they seek to carve out an identity of their own.

People talk about “The Alouette Way” and in all reality, it’s a made-up falsehood that fans cling to in remembrance of a time when this team wasn’t considered a laughingstock. In recent years, it has been a difficult time to be a fan of this franchise and many so-called fans have even jumped ship, embarrassed to be associated with this club.

The players on this current Alouettes team no doubt realize that they have a lot of work ahead of them. The ONLY way that the so-called “Alouette Way” can return or be established is by winning football games. I do see that brotherhood taking form as the days count down to the end of camp and these relationships grow stronger.

They may not win a ton of football games this season, but the foundation to a successful team is being laid down. At least Alouettes Nation hopes so.

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Cuts are an unfortunate part of the training camp experience and they happen for any number of reasons. The Alouettes are no exception to this and have released the following players:

Robbie Meade

Justin Gibbons

Alton Howard

Drico Johnson

Zackery Medeiros

Josh Robinson

Chucks Okafor

Khalid Wooten

These won’t be the last cuts made as the team has until this coming Saturday night to trim down the roster and designate practice roster spots. That makes this upcoming game versus the Hamilton Tiger-Cats so crucial, as players who are on the bubble will need to show out like never before.

Having wow moments during these camp sessions is nice, but there will be a lot of eyes on Percival Molson Stadium this Saturday that will be making some tough football decisions. The time to shine like never before is now.

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One person who apparently doesn’t have to worry about making wow moments happen is Chip Cox, who decided that he wanted to be a part of this Alouettes team after all and signed a one year contract. While many rejoiced at this news as Cox is a wildly popular player in Montreal, I for one am less than enthused.

While I think the world of Chip as a player and a human being, I do feel that he’s not been the same player as he has been. There was a time when Cox and his rugged style was feared by opposing teams, but that player has been replaced by one with many defensive liabilities. I’m well-aware that this team hasn’t had much to write home about in recent years, but I haven’t seen anything in Chip’s game recently that made me breathe a sigh of relief that he’s decided to return for 2018.

Not to mention returning to the team over a week after camp started is not the greatest look either. I simply don’t see the logic in releasing a Kyries Hebert (and Bear Woods in 2017) in order to get “younger and faster”, then in the same breath re-sign Chip Cox for 2018.

The Alouettes have a wealth of talent in the linebacking corps, including bonafide studs like Henoc Muamba, Chris Ackie and Kyle Knox. Not to mention some young talent that is wanting to carve out their place in Montreal’s lineup like Paul Kozachuk, Jean-Gabriel Poulin and Khadim Mbaye, who are younger, faster and easier on the salary cap.

I’ll always reserve judgment until the very end, but I just don’t see Chip Cox having that renaissance season. I hope he proves me wrong and should he do so, I’d gladly be the first one in line to eat crow.

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As of this going viral, the actual camp aspect of the preseason is finished for another year. Saturday is the final test for these Alouettes to see who will actually “earn their wings” and become a full-fledged member of this team for 2018.

Standing in their way is the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who also had a less than favourable 2017 season and have made some significant changes during the off-season. Their most talked-about move of the off-season was the signing of quarterback Johnny Manziel, whose immaturity and off-field transgressions far overshadowed what talent and professional success he’s had thus far.

There remains a lot of doubt as to whether this former Heisman trophy winner can find his form again. But Hamilton’s coaching staff is ready to give Manziel every opportunity to shine and he will see a lot of playing time versus the Alouettes. No doubt everyone on Montreal’s defense will be looking to make a name for themselves by going after Johnny Football.

But this former NFL star isn’t the reason you should be tuning into Saturday’s game. For Alouettes fans, this is your chance to see how this team will shape up for 2018. With all due respect to Manziel, the Alouettes have their own quarterback issues to still get figured out. Drew Willy will be starting the game and competition for the remaining QB spots will be intensified.

Let’s also not forget that the pre-season game is actually on a Saturday at noon, versus the usual Thursday night throwaway game for the pre-season. There will be early morning tailgating at Percival Molson Stadium and even though it’s Grand Prix weekend in Montreal, you will still be able to go to the game and then enjoy all the festivities that the city’s premier race weekend has to offer.

With beautiful sunny weather and live football on deck, what better opportunity than this to come out and get ready for a season of live football? Plus if you’re on the fence about season tickets for this team, this will be the time to come check out all the new events happening at the stadium for 2018. The Alouettes are looking to change the culture and provide a better game-day experience for its fans. Now’s your chance to get a first-hand look, live in person.

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We’ll be back later this weekend to finalize the 2018 Montreal Alouettes roster and get set for what will be a memorable season. Hopefully for the right reasons.

Enjoy the game Saturday, regardless of where you watch it.

GO ALS GO!!!

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