Alouettes coping with injuries, roster ratio as they prepare for Ticats
The Alouettes will be missing three players for Friday’s game against the Tiger-Cats in Hamilton and that’s forcing head coach Khari Jones to make some adjustments with the Canadian/American ratio.
CFL rules require teams to start at least seven national players and that poses a problem because two of the three injured players are Canadians and their likely replacements are Americans.
The most serious injury — and the one that will have most impact — is a knee injury suffered by safety Taylor Loffler. Alouettes general manager Kavis Reed said Tuesday that there was some good news about Loffler’s injury, but he also noted that the CFL all-star was week to week.
Loffler, who was one of the Alouettes’ major free-agent acquisitions during the off-season, has a history of knee problems. He has torn the ACL in his right knee twice and briefly retired from football after he was sidelined by injuries at Boise State. He returned to play a starring role at the University of British Columbia and missed only four games during his first three CFL seasons with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Loffler was a CFL all-star in each of his first three seasons in Winnipeg. He is only the ninth player — and the second Canadian — to achieve that feat.
With Loffler on the sidelines, American Greg Reid is expected to get a start Friday. He was one of four designated international players in the 32-25 season-opening loss to Edmonton on June 14, which means he was limited to special-teams duties.
Jones is also likely to use an international player at middle linebacker in place of Bo Lokombo, who is sidelined with bruised ribs. He’s on the one-game injured list.
“We’re looking at a couple of different things,” said Jones. “We can change it on the offensive line, we can change on the defensive live. We’re still in the deciding process. It’s always tough when you lose two Canadian starters, and two impact players like those guys, but hopefully they’ll be back soon.”
One likely change will be the appearance of versatile Canadian veteran Spencer Wilson at left guard.
The loss of two starters creates a challenge for an Alouettes defence that struggled in Edmonton. While the score was close, the Eskimos dominated the game and racked up 604 yards in total offence, the team’s highest total is 22 years.
It won’t get any easier against Hamilton, which is 2-0 after crushing the Toronto Argonauts 64-14 on Saturday.
“The defence is really itching to get back on the field because I think, to a man, they didn’t like the way the game went and how many yards they gave up,” said Jones. “I like the fact that they fought and continued to fight but, yeah, we definitely have some things to correct and they know that.
“It’s an ongoing process and I liken it to a preseason game,” Jones added. “It was the first time those guys had an opportunity to get out there together for an extended period of time. We won’t have all the pieces, but we’ll have enough that we should be a lot better.”
The third injury is a high ankle sprain sustained by starting quarterback Antonio Pipkin, but this might be the easiest one to absorb. Vernon Adams Jr. replaced Pipkin after he was injured in the Edmonton game and he led Montreal to 17 points in the fourth quarter to tie the game 25-25 before the Eskimos scored the winning TD with 1:04 to play.