Jeshrun Antwi does the backfield work for the Alouettes

The backfield of the Montreal Alouettes is now owned by Jeshrun Antwi and will remain so until further notice.

The 24-year-old Canadian running back is ready to face the music.

“I’ve been saying it all week: I have to focus on the little things, the discipline, the execution,” said the six-foot 220-pound footballer after Tuesday’s practice. […] So I need that when my services are called upon that my measurements are accurate and that I give the best of myself. If I do that, we have a good chance of winning. †

William Stanback underwent surgery Monday for an ankle injury he sustained on Thursday in the Alouettes’ opening game against the Calgary Stampeders. The Montreal football club has already put his name on the injured list for six games, but his absence will last longer.

“It will take a long time, but I remain optimistic knowing he could come back this season,” said general manager Danny Maciocia, who declined to comment further on a possible return to the game.

Antwi was hired by the Alouettes in November 2019, but only played his first matches at the Ambrosie circuit last year due to the pandemic. In 36 carries over 14 games, he amassed 176 yards in addition to catching all six passes thrown at him for an additional 46 yards.

He replaced Stanback in Calgary, had 98 yards on seven carries and caught three passes for 16 yards.

“There is a reason why ‘Coach’ (Khari) Jones, ‘Coach’ (André) Bolduc and Danny (Maciocia) brought me here,” said Antwi. I can run, but I can also catch the ball and especially protect our quarter. Whatever I am asked, I will do it. […] I need to make sure we don’t feel (Stanback’s loss) when I play. †

“It’s a big piece to replace, but the system works,” explains assistant head coach and running back coach André Bolduc. It doesn’t matter who the running back is, the plan remains the same. […] If you look at last year when (Cameron) played Artis-Payne, he got 100+ yards every time. Look at Antwi: big production last week, 98 rushing yards and 16 passes for a man who hadn’t practiced with group 1. Imagine when he picks up his pace and starts practicing with the first group. The system will ensure that he will be as successful as the others before him. †

Having Antwi with the team since the start of the last campaign makes things easier for Jones and his group.

“It’s huge because we can keep doing the same things,” he said. When we used it in the past, it gave us confidence. He knows the system well whether it be when he has the ball or when he is being used as a blocker. It is a quality half that has grown over the years. I’m glad he got the chance to show off. †

Fletcher and Worthy as reinforcements

To add depth to the position, the Alouettes bought Walter Fletcher from the Edmonton Elks on Tuesday in exchange for a sixth round in the 2023 Canadian Football League draft.

“We spent two days working on this transaction,” Maciocia noted. He has had quite a student career and I was able to watch all his matches last season. […] We like him very much: he can run with power, he can block and he has good hands. †

The 25-year-old from Columbia, Maryland, Fletcher played in 11 games in his first season with the Elks in 2021. He rushed for 302 yards on 67 carries and added 177 yards through the air on 22 caught passes.

The arrival of Fletcher is added to that of Chandler Worthy. Used as a receiver by the Toronto Argonauts, Worthy is more of a running back!

“When I joined the team, I told the team that I could and wanted to play in that position. […] In Toronto, I played as a receiver because that was where their needs were, but I’ve mostly played as a running back in the past,” Worthy noted. I was born to play this position. I don’t have to think when I’m in this position. †

“It was a nice surprise to know that he is a running back,” Jones admitted. He took a few rehearsals (Tuesday) and he did very well. He will mainly be used as a return specialist and if we need him in the backfield, he will be put to work. †

Worthy practiced with the second group on Tuesday and expects to play against the Toronto Argonauts on Thursday.

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