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Montreal Alouettes name Antonio Pipkin as their starting quarterback

Antonio Pipkin arrived at Alouettes’ training camp as the favourite to earn the starting quarterback job, but Khari Jones, the offensive coordinator and newly anointed head coach, said he wanted to see Pipkin compete for the the job.

“I wanted to see that drive, that passion,” Jones said Monday after directing his first practice since he was named to replace Mike Sherman as head coach. “I didn’t want him to think it was his job and, for a time, I think he thought that, but with the other guys playing the way they were, I wanted him to know it was a true competition. I think he handled that well and he went out to compete. And with his ability to throw the ball, his ability to run, to stay in the pocket, he showed a lot.”

Pipkin was the winner in a four-way competition. Vernon Adams Jr. is the backup, while Matthew Shiltz edged Jeff Mathews for the third spot on the roster.

“It was a great competition,” Jones said. “We had four capable players. It was a tough decision, but Antonio came out and showed what he has to lead this team. That’s taking nothing away from Vernon. Vernon had a great camp and so did Matt Shiltz and those guys are ready. As you know, we went through a lot of quarterbacks last year and the law of averages says we’ll need more than one. Pipkin knows he’s our starter. He’s going to make mistakes, he’s going to do things that aren’t great, but we’re going to go with him.”

“I’m excited to be a part of this team again,” said Pipkin, who is entering his third CFL season. He said his key coming into camp was to “be consistent and get better every day.”

Pipkin went off-message when he said Sherman didn’t seem to have a problem adjusting to the Canadian game, which was given as the reason he was sent packing on the weekend. But he also said that Jones’s longtime association with the CFL as a quarterback and coach would be an asset.

“He’s familiar with the CFL and the rules and that’s going to be big on the offensive side of the ball,” Pipkin said. “He’s going to see that standard is raised, it will continue to be raised and the standard is to win.”

The Als’ first regular-season test will be Friday when the team heads west to play the Edmonton Eskimos. (9 p.m. TSN, RDS, TSN-690 Radio).

“We’ll be ready,” Jones said. “There will be a few minor adjustments, but we’ve been working on some things we didn’t show in our preseason games. Our goal is to dictate the play on offence and defence.”

While Jones’s official title is interim head coach, he said he doesn’t think about the the qualifier preceding the title

“I don’t think about it, don’t worry about it,” he said. “I’m the head coach and that’s how I’m approaching it every day. I’m the head coach until I’m not. I’m the head coach today and I’ll probably be the head coach tomorrow and that’s good enough for me.”

One change from the Sherman era may be shorter practices.

“I want to be myself; I want to do things I liked as a player,” Jones said. “I want to be in and out of practices. I want to rest their legs a little bit, but I also want very purposeful practices. So if we have a few less reps out there, we have to make sure we’re sharp. We have to make sure everything is ready to go and everyone knows what they’re doing and I saw that today.

“I told (the players) when we’re finished practice, we’re done (and) they can do what they need for themselves. I put a lot of trust in the players and, hopefully, they trust me to do what’s best for them.”