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Henoc Muamba, Jake Wieneke up for CFL outstanding player awards

Middle-linebacker Henoc Muamba long has been considered the Alouettes’ defensive leader. But first and foremost, he’s a proud Canadian and team player.

The 30-year-old veteran learned on Thursday he’s the East Division finalist as the most outstanding Canadian. Muamba also was the Als’ nominee in the outstanding defensive player category.

Meanwhile, receiver Jake Wieneke also made it to the next round after being named the division finalist as most outstanding rookie.

“This means a lot for a guy who grew up playing three-down football,” said Muamba, who’s originally from Kinsasha, Congo, but was raised in both Montreal and Toronto.

“I’m proud to be Canadian and that I’ve played in this country. I’m proud to have played this game up here as well,” added Muamba, originally selected first overall by Winnipeg in 2011.

In his second stint with the Als, a team he rejoined last season after being a salary-cap casualty in February 2016, Muamba finished second in the Canadian Football League with 93 defensive tackles. He also had one quarterback sack and forced two fumbles while recovering one. He had four tackles for losses while knocking down three passes.

Muamba, who also played for the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, spent time with Saskatchewan between his two Montreal stints.

“To be able to succeed and play for this long as well is humbling,” he said.

Muamba will be up against Saskatchewan linebacker Cameron Judge, a Montreal native who was selected second overall in 2017.

Wieneke caught 41 passes for 569 yards and was an important target in the red zone for quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. Eight of Wieneke’s receptions were for touchdowns, highest on the team.

“It’s a great honour and a testament to hard work … a great team effort,” said the 25-year-old native of Maple Grove, Minn., who came to the Als after trying out for the Minnesota Vikings.

“As a receiver, you rely on a lot of people,” he added. “You rely on the offensive line to get the blocks and the snap, the quarterback to throw it. You have to be in the right spot as do the other receivers.

“I had so many mentors who took me under their wing … guided me, taught me and encouraged me to be the best I could be. It’s been so exciting to learn and grow with the team throughout the year. I love the CFL. I love this league.”

The West Division’s outstanding rookie is Calgary weak-side linebacker Nate Holley.

Heading the list of finalists are Hamilton receiver Brandon Banks and Saskatchewan quarterback Cody Fajardo in the most outstanding player category.

Other finalists include: The Tiger-Cats’ Simoni Lawrence and Winnipeg’s Willie Jefferson (defence); Hamilton’s Chris Van Zeyl and Winnipeg’s Stanley Bryant (offensive line); Hamilton’s Frankie Williams and Winnipeg’s Mike Miller (special teams). The Ticats’ Orlondo Steinauer and Saskatchewan’s Craig Dickenson are coach of the year finalists.

Voting was conducted by selected members of the Football Reporters of Canada and the league’s head coaches. Winners will be announced Nov. 21 during Grey Cup week in Calgary.

hzurkowsky@postmedia.com

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Source: montrealgazette.com




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