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Alouettes open rookie camp with 51 hopefuls battling for a roster spot

The players only took the field for a couple of hours, but general manager Kavis Reed liked what he saw when 51 hopefuls ran through drills on the opening day of the Alouettes’ rookie camp Wednesday at Molson Stadium.

“It’s about evaluation, finding out what guys can we move forward so we have the most competitive training camp so we can build the best football team for 2019,” Reed said near the end of the two-hour practice. “Today’s going to be one of those days when guys are going to be a little rusty, you always expect that. You’re looking for the athlete, you’re looking at who’s in shape, you’re looking at who has the functional movement skills, the functional strength and you want to make sure these guys are progressing.

“You’re going to correct a lot of things on Day 1, but I like the mood, the spirit,” Reed added. “I like the way our coaches are coaching. They’re coaching as if it’s Day 4 of the main camp.”

There was no hitting on the field, and as the players worked through formations, it was defensive backs and wide receivers who made good first impressions on Reed.

“With the defensive backs, we like Ryan Carter, Jamarcus King looked good and Sheldon Price’s length will work to his advantage if we move him to the right spot on the field,” Reed said. “Marcus Cromartie stood out receiver-wise, (Dante) Absher stood out right away and we’re expecting big things from him.”

There were a couple of shadows hanging over the team as the camp opened, but Reed said neither concerned him.

There was a possibility the camp wouldn’t open because there was no collective bargaining agreement in place, but the league and the CFL Players’ Association reached a tentative agreement Wednesday morning.

There aren’t many changes in the agreement and Reed said he was prepared for whatever ended up in the final agreement. The Canadian/import ratio remains the same with 21 Canadians, 20 imports and three quarterbacks on the game-day roster. Reed said he hoped that at least one starting receiver spot would be won by a Canadian, freeing up an offensive line spot for an import.

Reed also said he wasn’t concerned about reports that the team will be sold.

“My main concern is that we put together a good training camp, a competitive training camp,” said Reed. “I do my very best not to be involved in (the sale talk). It’s way above my pay grade.”

The team announced the signing of offensive-lineman Samuel Thomassin on Wednesday. The second-round draft pick from Laval signed a three-year deal. Reed said he’s also reached an agreement with Nate Anderson, a defensive end from Toronto. He was given permission to skip the rookie camp so he can attend his graduation from the University of Missouri.

There was one notable absentee Wednesday. Head coach Mike Sherman was home in
Boston, where he was scheduled to undergo what was described as minor oral surgery. He won’t be on hand for the opening of the main camp on Sunday, but should be back in a week to 10 days.

The Alouettes filled out their coaching staff Wednesday with the hiring of Morris Lolar as defensive-backs coach. Lolar played six seasons in the CFL and helped the Edmonton Eskimos win the Grey Cup in 1993.