Cody Fajardo walked the field at Percival-Molson Stadium for the first time in a Montreal Alouettes uniform on Friday night as part of the team’s final preseason game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The Als won 25-22. Now Jason Maas and Danny Maciocia are starting the real work.
Updated yesterday at 11:20 p.m.
After more than two weeks spent in Trois-Rivières, the Alouettes’ off-season finally came to an end, with a breeze from the Magdalen Islands, on the synthetic turf of McGill University.
It was an opportunity for young players to prove themselves. It was also, and above all, an opportunity for the veterans to get back into the swing of things.
Quarterback Cody Fajardo arrived in Montreal as a savior. Finally a mobile shift. Finally a charismatic quarter. Finally a quarter with the deep desire to play in Montreal.
I was nervous! There are so many new guys who want to play here.
Quarterback Cody Fajardo after the win
The 31-year-old couldn’t stay put during the warm-up period. Completely engrossed in the moment, Fajardo looked good as the ball landed in his hands following a failed first streak by the Tiger-Cats.
First observation: Fajardo can use his legs. It was said, it is now confirmed. He is lively and agile. The number 7 dodged his pursuers and this extra dimension could be beneficial for the Alouettes.
Even by air, Fajardo also stood out for his quick anticipation and his ability to read situations quickly. His pass in the end zone to reach Kaion Julien-Grant to conclude his first sequence made the timid crowd of the Montreal stadium jump. It was a good omen.
However, his viewfinder was somewhat lacking. On long attempts, his arm was often inaccurate. “The wind didn’t make things easy. […] It was hard to judge deep passes,” he admitted.
Obviously, he will have to adjust. “At the same time, I like it because it makes things complicated. You have to practice in all the elements, because if you want to win games and the Gray Cup, you have to play in all the conditions. »
Finding and nurturing cohesion between him and his receivers will also be a daily task. His game was not that convincing. But for a first game, there is room for optimism.
He was taken out of the game by his head coach midway through the second quarter, with seven completions on 14 attempts for 77 passing yards.
Who will catch the ball?
Veteran Greg Ellingson is expected to be the team’s first receiver. Injured in the last few months, he was spared by the organization which did not play the two preparatory games.
It is for the positions behind him in the hierarchy that Maas and Maciocia will have to scratch their heads. Especially since it is difficult to define how many recipients will be selected and retained.
For two games, Quartney Davis is the one who has shown the most. He had scored a sublime touchdown last week against the Ottawa Rouge & Noir.
Against the Tiger-Cats, he continued to shine. In particular by capturing and securing important catches. The Alouettes had few long plays, but Davis had a big catch for 34 yards late in the first half, on the edge of the end zone. That play led to Walter Fletcher’s touchdown seconds later.
“It’s never enough! I try to be consistent, and that’s all I can do. I hope to make the team and make more big plays here,” he said after the game, his hands in his heated pocket.
Davis finished the game with five of the six passes caught for him, for a total of 56 yards.
“Since we arrived, Cody and I have been working on our bond and I think we’re starting to have a good one,” he revealed of his quarterback.
His coach also recognized his good game: “He did a good job tonight. Especially with his legs and his ability to move the ball. »
Like last week, Austin Mack shone at times, without forcing the organization to offer him a role of importance on a silver platter. The former NFL player is capable of great things, but a few more repetitions will be necessary to find cohesion with Fajardo.
Next come Cole Spieker and Kaion Julien-Grant. Two receivers who will undoubtedly be in the Alouettes’ lineup, but who did not offer a transcendent performance. They struggled to catch some balls sent in their direction. Even though they should start the season in Montreal, it’s hard to talk about these two players as insurance policies. Their demonstration during this preseason was not completely reassuring.
Israel Antwine seizes his chance
He is 23 years old and spent time in the Jacksonville Jaguars organization in the NFL. While he was unknown at the start of the camp, his performance on Friday was extremely convincing. The tackler made two quarterback sacks.
“I feel fantastic after this performance, he said, somewhat shy after the game, on the sidelines. I felt like I could make a good first impression and I did. »
Beyond the result, it is above all the way in which he went to the opposing quarters that made him stand out.
Explosive, quick and nimble to get through the offensive wall, the 309 lbs player shrugged off double covers to reach his target.
“I was confident, calm and ready to give it my all. I never relax until the dial is at zero,” he added.
The first defensive unit started the game and when it was rested, the players fighting for a position almost all had a difficult evening. The Tiger-Cats were having fun at the park, especially against the pass. However, Antwine was the only real spark plug for the second defensive unit.
“He had a good camp,” Maas said. “He’ll be someone to look at all season long,” he added as he slipped away on his decision to keep him on the team. I’m excited for him. »
#TigerCats #Alouettes #final #preparations