Now that the negotiations on the new collective labor agreement are lagging behind, the Montreal Alouettes are ready for a bit of football. Head coach Khari Jones is also preparing to launch his men in preseason games for the first time since 2019.
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“It’s my first preseason game as head coach, which is weird after three years,” he admitted on the phone on Friday. Can’t wait to get a feel for the game and see all our new players. We have a lot of guys who are fighting hard and some of them may play for us.”
The Sparrows will face the Tiger-Cats in Hamilton on Saturday. It was the Ontario team that concluded their 2021 season in the first round of the playoffs.
“It’s always fun to fight with Hamilton. They have been to the Gray Cup for the past two years. I know it’s preseason but we want to play hard and show what we’ve got,” said Jones, who will play all his men in uniform.
Some, like quarterback Vernon Adams Jr., will be left out against the Ti-Cats. Instead, they will see action against the Ottawa Redblacks next Friday.
“We will try to spread that over the two races to see everyone. We want to give some more minutes so that they are on the field longer. And in the second part we will have other guys,” the American driver confirmed.
On Thursday evening, the Canadian Football League Players’ Association ratified the collective bargaining agreement proposed by the Ambrosie Circuit. After the training camp was temporarily halted, it was with great trepidation that some greeted the news.
“I had confidence. I felt we were close. I was hoping there was a solution and I’m glad they did. I didn’t really have a plan B, I didn’t think about it,” Jones admitted.
“We have not had any preparatory matches in 2020 to prepare well and have a good training camp. It is certainly a breath of fresh air. I think it had to be because we had to negotiate, and I think the two clans are happy now,” said defensive lineman Vincent Desjardins.
Due to the rain, the Alouettes trained indoors at the Alphonse-Desjardins Sports Complex in Trois-Rivières. The players will soon travel to Hamilton, with the intention of proving their worth.
“They were quieter today [vendredi],,It’s the nerves that come on board”, the coach explained. They are ready. You look them in the eye and you see that they are ready to play football.
Vincent Desjardins excited about the challenge
After two seasons away from home with the Calgary Stampeders, Vincent Desjardins begins a new chapter in his career with the Montreal Alouettes, much to the delight of his loved ones.
The 27-year-old defensive lineman signed a one-year contract in February. He will wear the Sparrows uniform for the first time in a game situation, Saturday in Hamilton, against the Tiger-Cats.
“I grew up watching the Alouettes and it’s an honor for me to wear their jersey. I’ve been looking forward to wearing it all off-season and playing a game in front of my fans and my parents, who are going to watch television,” Desjardins said on the phone on Friday.
“I think my parents and my friends were even more excited than I was,” he added. When I was in Calgary they couldn’t watch the full games.”
In a supporting role, the Quebec native played 20 games with the Stampeders in 2019 and 2021. He plans to force the hand of coach Khari Jones and get plenty of playing time this season.
“I am a working player, I will show up to every game. My goals are to break the formation of dressed players and play all games. I want to be a resource. I want people to be able to count on me,” said Desjardins, who should, among other things, play a role in special teams.
The product from Quebec and belonging to the province of La Belle are the keywords of the last low season with the Alouettes. More than ever they are determined to become the Quebec team and this is a message that Vincent Desjardins strongly endorses.
“We really feel the enthusiasm of the fans here in Trois-Rivières. There are people present. They are proud of their team and we can say that it is the team of Quebecers. The other clubs, such as Toronto, represent a city. We really are the province,” he says.
The local product will also be put in the spotlight on the ground. Desjardins is a former player of Laval University Rouge et Or, with whom he won the Vanier Cup twice. He is happy to see many of his former teammates and opponents in the ranks of the university are back together in the pros.
“It’s a really nice atmosphere. It’s good for the team spirit,” he says.