Thursday, 5 January 2012
The Alouettes Next Move With Anwar Stewart
In the second installment of who will be back with the Alouettes, today I will focus on the future of defensive-end Anwar Stewart. No question he is one of the most respected leaders in the locker room.
During the season, I posed the question on Twitter, is Anwar Stewart a hall of famer? Within minutes, it was answered by Calgary Stampeders receiving great Nik Lewis (@nikel18), who said “without question he is!”
Given that he is the senior member of the defense; could Jim Popp consider taking a different path with Stewart on his potential future with the club?
Rewind to last winter, whispers were abound that the Alouettes may have asked
Stewart to take a pay cut to stay on the team. Entering training camp, it seemed that his role was being reduced in order to give more repetitions to the younger players on the roster. This may have been a strategic move by Marc Trestman and Tim Tibesar to keep him fresh for the start of the season.
Then during the season, amidst the Alouettes tough stretch of games towards the end of August into September, after a loss to the Tiger-Cats, he vented to the media his displeasure of not receiving sufficient playing time. Shortly thereafter, it became water under the bridge, as Stewart and Trestman privately aired out their thoughts knowing they needed each other for the last half of the season.
Looking at his on-field success, did Stewart’s play drop off during the 2011 season? I don’t think so, and in-fact, he might have been the best player heading down the stretch where he was the cause of a couple momentum changing plays for the team in road victories over the Edmonton Eskimos and Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
In day after their playoff loss to the Tiger-Cats, the question was posed to him on his future with the team. With his trademark smile, it seemed like he was content to coming back for a chance at winning a fifth Grey Cup in his career.
However, with his potential desire to come back with the team, where does this leave pending free agent Jermaine McElveen? He too voiced his disappointment on receiving limited playing time towards the end of the season. As of right now, he is exploring all options in trying to garner NFL tryouts before deciding on his CFL future.
If he does re-sign with the team, could he potentially take away snaps from Stewart? Furthermore, the team is very high on Wayne State product, Daunte Akra, who they think could be the future replacement for Stewart, and may seize away his playing time if he does well at training camp.
In the last three years, Stewart has been very consistent, averaging seven sacks. What makes this statistic even better, his cohort John Bowman has the bulk of the team sacks. In today’s football, it is awfully hard to have two rush ends on the field at the same time and having statistical success.
Stewart has been a class act on and off the field spending countless hours being apart of the Alouettes community programs. In sports it is difficult to replace a strong voice such as him, if he is jettisoned by the team.
When used properly, Stewart is an effective pass rusher. The question remains, could he still be in the Alouettes plans at the salary he is making? For now, both Stewart, and management are entering murky waters of who will make the next move.
You can follow me on Twitter @MoeKhan19
Photo courtesy of CFL.ca