Thursday, 29 March 2012

Who Could Fill The Alouettes Defensive Leadership Void Left by Anwar Stewart

It has been almost two months since fan favourite Anwar Stewart was released by the Montreal Alouettes.

Heading into training camp, who on the defense will assume the leadership void that was left by Stewart?

The first name to be considered is John Bowman, who due to seniority at his position automatically becomes one the deans of the defense.

There is no denying he has been one of the premier pass rushers in the league averaging 11 sacks in the last four years.

He will surely be looked upon as a player that the defense will rely on for tips, wisdom, and potentially being the new voice. Furthermore, with Stewart no longer there, he might become the next face that the media will request on a regular basis for quotes.

Don’t forget about linebacker Chip Cox, who has been apart of the Alouettes for the same amount of time as Bowman.

He has the penchant to make a big play when called upon, and he will surely be looked by new defensive coordinator, Jeff Reinebold to elevate his role.

As versatile as Cox is, he could become even better in Reinebold’s schemes where he is in position to make more plays.

From a Canadian perspective, Shea Emry could very well be considered for his leadership skills.

He plays one of the most difficult positions in football where he must make the adjustments on the fly for the defense. Throughout his time Emry has displayed an undeniable ability to lead by example.

Coming off an upper body injury, Emry is primed to help restore this defense that last year was decimated by opposing offenses.

Finally Etienne Boulay. He has become an important figure on and off the field. He is a fan favourite in the local community as there many partisans wearing his jersey at the home games.

Furthermore, even though it is a new defense he and his teammates will be learning. He knows what it takes to get it done on the field.

With the addition of former B.C. Lions player Aaron Hunt, who brings vast experience, knows what it takes to win in the trenches, and the league.

For those who have been around this behemoth of a player, he is very articulate, and a funny character that should blend in well with this team.

A new outside voice could be refreshing for a team having a makeover on their defense.

From a public relations standpoint, many Montreal fans are still disappointed by management opting to go in a different direction than bring back Stewart for his potential swan song in the CFL.

Furthermore, if the team decides to sign former Hamilton Tiger-Cats defensive end Stevie Baggs, this might be the tipping point for fans. They could question management on acquiring a Baggs who statistically and competitively did not match Stewart’s output in 2011.

Training camp is just around the corner, but the Alouettes should expect the
supporting characters to step up into a main role for 2012.

Follow me on Twitter @MoeKhan19

Listen to me every Friday morning on The Midnight Snack from midnight-2am, every Tuesday night on Gamepoints, and various shows on TSN 990.

Photo credit: www.vancouversun.com

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

An Early Look at the Potential 2012 Starting Lineup for The Montreal Alouettes

We’re still three months away from the Montreal Alouettes starting their regular season against the Calgary Stampeders.

But here is an early forecast at their potential starting 24 that will take the field at McMahon Stadium.

To date, nothing has been confirmed if the team will transition from a traditional 4-3 to a 3-4 base. But if they do, it will definitely make the competition a lot more intense.

Without further ado, here is my first crack at the 2012 Montreal Alouettes lineup.
Offense

QB: Anthony Calvillo: Is there any doubt who will be the starting quarterback for the Alouettes? Yes, Cavillo is entering the twilight of his career, and its time to start grooming the future quarterback. But the team’s Grey Cup chances rely on Calvillo.

RB: Brandon Whitaker: This training camp there’s no doubt on who will be the starting running back. Now, the only question, could head coach, Marc Trestman, contemplate giving more touches to Whitaker?

FB/ATHE: Kerry Carter: This is a player who doesn’t get any attention, but he can play any position that is required of him to do.

REC: Jamel Richardson: I don’t have to explain too much, his talent, and numbers are out of this world.

REC: S.J. Green: Same thing as Richardson, Green is a star in the CFL.

REC: Brian Bratton: Mr. Consistent on the Alouettes, Bratton’s role could be expanded with the retirement of Kerry Watkins.

REC: Brandon London: Arguably he has the inside track for the fourth starting spot, he has all the physical tools, and could be a match up problem.

OL: Josh Bourke: One of the best at his position. Last year, if he didn’t get hurt, could the Alouettes have gone deeper in the CFL playoffs? In a media session scrum he vented on how disappointed he was about his injury, and is hungry for a strong 2012 season.

OL: Andrew Woodruff: An underrated player, he is slowly ascending as one of the premier young guards in the CFL.

OL: Luc Brodeur-Jourdain: Two years ago the team had some big shoes to fill when Bryan Chiu retired on the eve of training camp. Brodeur-Jourdain started out as guard, but transitioned to centre. Now, he has become the traffic cop for the Alouettes calling out the line adjustments.

OL: Scott Flory: I don’t need to write anything, because his body of work speaks for itself.

OL: Jeff Perrett: For now I will give him the fifth spot, but there will be competition from Jeraill McCuller who could alter the ratio status if he beats out Perrett.

Defense:

DL: Aaron Hunt: If the Alouettes decide to employ the 3-4 front, Hunt will be the anchor of the defense. He knows what to do considering the B.C. Lions defense primarily played in this front.

DL: Moton Hopkins: He has great size, and he could be on the verge of a breakout season.

DL: John Bowman: Again if the team opts for this formation, this could be an adjustment for Bowman. His statistics might take a dip considering the different principles that is required in this front.

LB: Shea Emry: He was sorely missed after he went down with an upper body injury. One of the best Canadian linebackers, and he is a ratio changer at a position normally occupied by an import.

LB: Chip Cox: Arguably the best all around defensive player on the roster. His speed will be an asset, and could thrive in this new formation environment.

LB: Ramon Guzman: He is an underrated player on the roster. The team missed him in
their loss against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He could be in a fight for his position.

LB: Rod Davis: His ability to come off the edge would provide huge dividends to the team. Again, if the team plays in a 3-4 base, the edge rushers will be instrumental in applying quarterback pressure.

DB: Etienne Boulay: It seemed when Boulay was lost for the season, it hurt their ratio in the back end, but also they lost a player who was groomed for this position after Matthieu Proulx retired. Boulay is healthy and eager to get back on the field.

DB: Dwight Anderson: Last year will be erased from everyone’s memory. Anderson is a talented player, and if he and the team are on the same page it will bode well for their Grey Cup hopes.

DB: Billy Parker: Unfortunately, due to injuries in the secondary, he had to practically play every position. Parker is now their best cover guy, and he has the penchant to make the big play.

DB: Jerald Brown: he suffered a terrible lower body injury in the first week of the season. From all indications, Brown is healthy, and ready to go.

DB: Seth Williams: For now, I will give him the last spot. That is unless Mark Estelle is re-signed, and has a clean bill of heath.

PK/P: Sean Whyte: In 2011, questions were swirling if he could handle both duties. He flourished in place kicking, but will need to increase his punting average and hang time. Otherwise, he has bright CFL future ahead of him.

Follow me on Twitter @MoeKhan19

Listen to me every Friday morning on The Midnight Snack from midnight-2am, every Tuesday night on Gamepoints, and various shows on TSN 990.

Photo credit: http://www.accrofootmag.com/

Another Storyline To Chew On, As Luc Mullinder is Back With The Alouettes

According to The Montreal Gazette’s beat writer, Herb Zurkowksy, the Montreal Alouettes have again brought back Luc Mullinder into the fold.

This is surprising considering last's season trade from the Saskatchewan Roughriders to Alouettes he didn’t have enough time to unpack his boxes. Shortly after his arrival to Montreal he was released by management due to balking on taking a pay cut in his salary.

As a result, he joined the Hamilton Tiger-Cats for their stretch run.

With Mullinder back, it adds another non-import to their defensive line since the team was lacking quantity on their front line.

Now, if the whispers are true that the team will be transitioning to a 3-4 front, Mullinder could very well be playing on the edge of the line. It would then enable the second level of the defense (linebackers) come and make the tackle.

With the signing of Mullinder, could this take the Alouettes out of the running for Stevie Baggs servcies?

Already this has been a roller coaster offseason for the Alouettes. This training camp will have unlimited storylines on defense who could lose their job due to who the team has brought into camp.

Follow me on Twitter @MoeKhan19

Listen to me every Friday morning on The Midnight Snack from midnight-2am, every Tuesday night on Gamepoints, and various shows on TSN 990.

Photo credit: http://www.thespec.com/

Monday, 26 March 2012

Former Montreal Expos great Tim Wallach on Game Points, August 28, 2011

We finally got around to posting the Tim Wallach TSN 990 Game Points with Matthew Ross interview we did with the former MLB third baseman back in August of last year. The baseball standout was gracious enough to chat with us and it was so great to hear his take on Montreal and all of the memories he had associated with the city.





Follow the show on Twitter @TSNmatthew. Game Points can be heard Tuesdays 9pm-midnight and Sundays 6-8pm on TSN 990 in Montreal.

Former Montreal Expos shortstop Spike Owen on Game Points, March 20, 2012

Former Montreal Expos shortstop Spike Owen was a guest on our Game Points with Matthew Ross show back on March 20, 2012. While he was calling from the desert which caused a couple of dropped calls during the interview, it was just great to talk baseball and hear from a former hard nosed Expos player who was a fan favorite. Enjoy the interview.



Follow the show on Twitter @TSNmatthew. Game Points can be heard Tuesdays 9pm-midnight and Sundays 6-8pm on TSN 990 in Montreal.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

The Battle Of Quebec: Part Deux


In case you have not being paying attention, the Quebec Nordiques will be returning to the NHL as soon as next season. It has not been formally announced but the signs are there. Consider the following:

  • The success of the Winnipeg Jets in terms of generating a sustainable level of revenue.
  • Bill Daley, deputy commissioner of the NHL, has been making the rounds on sports talk radio in Canada saying that the Phoenix Coyotes are still up for grabs to anyone dumb enough to lose millions of dollars by keeping the team in Arizona.
  • The rest of the NHL owners are tired of subsidizing the team in Phoenix when there is Pierre Karl PĂ©ladeau waiting with bags of money to buy the team.
  • Quebecor did not build TVA Sports to broadcast poorly voice over Toronto Raptors and Blue Jays games. The network is in need of flagship content.
What does this all mean to Montrealers and Quebeckers? Simply put, The Battle of Quebec is back (on and off the ice). Here are a few things to look for that will refuel the rivalry.

  1. The battle of the brands. In 80’s, it was Molson vs Carling O'Keefe, now it will be Bell Canada Enterprises vs Videotron. Forget about getting people to drink beer, these corporate entities are going to use their association with the teams to get people to access content on their respective platforms (i.e. television, radio, web, mobile devices).
  2. Talent chez nous. The Canadiens has been taking a beating over the years for not being able to identify and draft prospects from the province of Quebec. No doubt, the Nordiques will make it a point of putting in place a system that will scout the best talent from all regions of Quebec to say that they are the team with best home-grown prospects and players.
  3. Language. Yes, language, the other favourite sport that Quebeckers like to talk about. The franchise returning to Quebec will definitely have a strong French presence to represent their fans. We all saw how the importance of language is when it comes to hockey as the Habs made a complete mess of naming Randy Cunneyworth as interim coach. It is will be interesting to see if the two franchises will get into a virtual pissing contest to see which team is the “l’equipe nationale”
  4. Which is the better team? With the Habs’ poor performance this season and the rebuild that has to be done, the Nordiques will have the opportunity to compete with the Canadiens in the standings. Having the two teams battling it out for a playoff spot will only whip up the late season ferver that is lack this season.
Final Taughts:

  • The National Headshot League expands again. Duncan Keith’s hit on Daniel Sedin once again gives a concrete argument that the NHL deserves the moniker, “National Headshot League”. The hit was premeditated and Keith should have been suspended for at least 10 games. Giving him 5 games actually benefits Blackhawks in their preparation for the playoff in terms of giving the defenseman an unintentional break from the ice. Brendan Shanahan should take a cue from Roger Goodell. Suspend a player severely if he deliberately injures another player, even if it is to prove a point.
  • Where would you rather be? A sports fan, where would you rather be: in Montreal, with only franchises in two “major leagues” (i.e., Canadiens, Impact) or Toronto with perennial losers in the MLB, NBA, NHL, MLS? I’m really struggling with this dilemma.
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Friday, 23 March 2012

The Mystery Continues On With Head Coach Marc Trestman on Contract Negotiations With The Alouettes

Approaching the first weekend of spring, where does the Montreal Alouettes stand in contract negotiations with their head coach, Marc Trestman?

In the middle of January during the coaching exodus of their staff to the NCAA, The Montreal Gazette’s beat writer, Herb Zurkowsky reported that a contract extension was in the works.

It has been two months, and there has been no update on whether management and Trestman’s camp are close to an agreement.

Furthermore, entering training camp if there is no accord in-place with captain of the ship, could it cast another cloud over the Alouettes? After the 2012 season the team could potentially be overhauling their roster if Anthony Calvillo, and others decide to retire or move on to other opportunities.

What has made this situation intriguing the Winnipeg Blue Bombers announced a contract extension for their third year head coach in Paul LaPolice. He has yet to reach or equal Trestman’s success.

In the last press conference of the season, some local media members asked Trestman on whether or not he will be here beyond 2012? Trestman said it was between him and the team.

For the journalists who have dealt with Trestman on a day to day basis knows he is very guarded about his contract situation becoming a public distraction.

For the success that he has had in his four years as CFL head coach, a lot of fans feel he will eventually bolt to the NFL, or NCAA. There is no denying he has been on the NFL radars with his name most recently being associated with the Indianapolis Colts.

Generally, when a coach is entering the last year of his deal without a new contract in-hand, it means three things. He might not be retained by the team beyond the life term. He could be fired during the season as an excuse for management to use on why their team is playing poorly. Or he simply might leave after his deal is completed.

But with Trestman’s it would be hard to argue on why he wouldn’t be given a new deal.

Certainly there hasn’t been any coach with no CFL experience come and in a short period of time have his team be the jubilee of the league as Trestman has accomplished.

History has shown preceding Alouettes head coaches such as Bob Price, and Charlie Taaffe have left the team for the better paid jobs in the south.

The intrigue will continue on with Trestman and his future with the team.

Follow me on Twitter @MoeKhan19

Listen to me every Friday morning on The Midnight Snack from midnight-2am, every Tuesday night on Gamepoints, and various shows on TSN 990.


Photo credit: http://www.cyberpresse.ca/

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Could Brandon London Make The Deep Receiving Core A Four Headed Monster Attack

Entering the 2011 training camp, very few diehard football fans knew the name of Brandon London.

In-fact, a friend of mine who is a passionate New York Giants partisan, became excited upon hearing that London was apart of the Montreal Alouettes roster.

Having come from a football family, as his father, Mike is the head coach of the University of Virginia; Brandon knows what it takes to be successful at the professional level and in life.

There is no denying London has been blessed along his football journey. He has achieved a rare feat of winning a Super Bowl (with the Giants) and Grey Cup in his young career. The question is which ring is nicer looking?

This season, entering his second training camp, the team can pencil in Brian Bratton, S.J. Green, and Jamel Richardson as starters in the receiving core. That would leave one open spot.

I firmly believe that London will have an inside track on earning the fourth position. Moreover, listed at 6’4, and 210 pounds, he is a matchup problem playing against smaller defensive backs.

In 2011 Green, and Richardson statistically dominated opposing defenses. Factor in Bratton’s solid production, London was no slouch as he finished with 38 receptions, 475 receiving yards, and one touchdown.

With Kerry Watkins retiring during the offseason, it will be imperative for London to take the next step in his Alouettes career to assert himself as the fourth starter in the lineup. He will be facing competition from the likes of Bo Bowling, Eric Deslauriers, Felton Huggins, Derrell Johnson-Koulianos (if he decides to play in the CFL), and Adam Mims who the team has very high hopes for.

We already know what Bratton, Green, and Richardson can do. Let’s not forget during the three year Grey Cup run, the offense was at its best when all four receivers on the field had a say in the football game.

As mentioned in the Bratton article that he could join Green, and Richardson in becoming the first trio of receivers since 2009 to have 1,000 yards each. Could London make it four pass catchers with 1,000 yards, a feat not achieved since 2005.

But if London could surpass his totals from last year, it would make life much easier on Anthony Calvillo, and his cohorts.

The team will face a stiff test in the first few weeks of the season. They will be playing arguably the most aggressive, and athletic secondary in the Calgary Stampeders, and Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

For those keeping score at home, the Alouettes have a bone to pick with both clubs, as they essentially ended their hopes of winning the East division last year with two late October losses.

The Alouettes have been blessed to have depth players such as London waiting in the wings for their opportunity to be a full time contributor.

This year, could be the season where London would make the receiving core a quartet threat.

Follow me on Twitter @MoeKhan19

Listen to me every Friday morning on The Midnight Snack from midnight-2am, every Tuesday night on Gamepoints, and various shows on TSN 990.


Photo credit: http://www.cfl.ca/

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Stevie Baggs Future, Does It Include The Alouettes or Another CFL Team?

Trying to figure out where pass rusher Stevie Baggs will end up playing football, is comparable to cramming for a final exam worth 100 percent. Essentially, it's impossible is what I am implying

To date, there has been no concrete information on which team(s) is in the bidding for Baggs services.

Over the weekend, I did manage to contact Baggs to see if he would like to join Gamepoints Radio on TSN 990 to discuss what had happened with the Hamtilon Tiger-Cats.

Initially, he agreed, but two days after our first contact, he sent a message, apologizing that he would have to decline the opportunity to come on-air.

At first, it caught me off guard, but I realized this could be a move by his camp to minimize any information on Baggs future.

This is generally a normal ploy in sports, where a free agent who is in the midst of contract negotiations with a potential partner, will go rogue until further notice.

Now, which teams could have interest in Baggs services?

Montreal Alouettes: Anytime there is a big name player who is in the open market, chances are high that they will be linked to Montreal. General manager; Jim Popp is known to be a hard bargain.

If Baggs wants an opportunity at winning the Grey Cup, he will need to cede to Popp’s terms. Moreover, to date, no one knows what defensive formation the Alouettes will employ in 2012. The whispers are pointing to a 3-4 alignment, but could Baggs excel in this formation?

Edmonton Eskimos: Automatically he has a connection with general manager, Eric Tillman from their Saskatchewan Roughriders days. Don’t forget that Eskimos head coach, Kavis Reed was apart of the ’09 Roughriders staff and he knows Baggs very well.

The team did sign Don Oramasionwu from the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and brought back Rashad Jeanty into the fold. With the emergence of Marcus Howard, Ted Laurent, and Julius Williams, Baggs could be another depth player for a young, hungry defensive line.

B.C. Lions: This is a long shot since the team spent a lot of money on their secondary. But considering that Brent Johnson has retired, there is an opening at one defensive end position.

Keep in-mind that Wally Buono has never shied away from taking on a player who has a chip on his shoulder see Arland Bruce, as a prime example.

Right now, from reading the pulse across the CFL, it seems there is an even split on
Baggs ability. There is a faction that thinks Baggs could be a serviceable player for team needing depth for the pass rush. However, some pundits strongly believe that Baggs is more talk than substance, and would not make a dent on the football field.

We should find out very soon who has won his services.

Follow me on Twitter @MoeKhan19

Listen to me every Friday morning on The Midnight Snack from midnight-2am, every Tuesday night on Gamepoints, and various shows on
TSN 990.

Photo credit: http://www.cfl.ca/

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Brandon Whitaker A Man On A Mission With The Alouettes

In professional sports an athlete is best remembered for their last play.

In the case of Montreal Alouettes running back, Brandon Whitaker, his last play was an incomplete third down pass from Anthony Calvillo to him in overtime loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

As a result, the many errors created by the Alouettes ended their hopes of vying for a third consecutive Grey Cup title.

Just like his “2-Way” nickname, there are two directions Whitaker could have taken going into the offseason. One path, he could have sulked, and never erase the memory of the play. Or he takes the other road and uses it as motivation to fuel his desire in helping the Alouettes to a Grey Cup victory.

Whitaker has already defied the odds of being a CFL player. Initially, when he joined the organization in 2008, he was in a yo-yo situation being released twice during the season.

Generally, an import player who has gone through what Whitaker experienced would be fed up by this and go back home.

However, there he was grinding away in hopes of one day garnering an opportunity to be a contributor in any possible way. As the 2009, and 2010 Grey Cup championship seasons progressed, Whitaker patiently waited as his mentor, and a player he calls big brother in Avon Cobourne was the backbone of the most potent offense in the CFL.

In the winter of 2011, when Cobourne signed with the Tiger-Cats, on my radio show, he said watch out for Whitaker. “He has it all, the team won’t miss a step, and he will beat out the competition to be the starter”.

Even though management signed former NFL star, Ahman Green, Yveson Bernard, and had Emmanuel Marc on their roster. It seemed that the competition would be stiff.

There were some pundits believing that Green could be in the mold of former Alouette players in Autry Denson, and Robert Edwards and provide a one year stop gap.

Green never made it to the first day of camp, and Whitaker continued on. As he fought his way in earning first team reps during training sessions and preseason games.

In the week one battle against the B.C. Lions, everyone forgot about the camp competition, and laid eyes on Whitaker’s effort as he ran for 119 yards on 17 carries in the victory.

In some cases, after a one game performance, players will believe in their hype thinking it will be easy street. Not Whitaker, who throughout the season stayed humbled, focused, and always deflected any praises bestowed on him.

He always credited the coaches, Calvillo, and his teammates for putting him in this position to be a lethal threat. Most importantly, he never forgot to mention Cobourne, and how important he is in his professional career.

To show how valuable Whitaker is in this offense, the team was 9-2 when he averaged double digits in rushing attempts. On the other hand, they were 1-6 when he had less than 10 carries a game.

Whitaker’s impact was greatly felt when he had 20 or more total touches on the football. The Alouettes offense averaged 35.5 points per game. His production average was 9.4 yards per touch, and had 181.5 total yards per game, and more importantly the team was 6-0.

In the other four victories, Whitaker averaged 15.75 football touches. However, he only averaged 6 yards per touch, and his total yards per game dramatically reduced in half to 90.5, and the offense was hovering around 31.25 points per game.

A lot of fans sent me questions on why Whitaker was not more involved in the offense. But considering who is teammates are; in Brian Bratton, S.J. Green, and Jamel Richardson and their fantastic seasons they each had. It is impressive the numbers he racked up given how prolific this offense is.

No one can take away Whitaker’s season as he finished with 1,381 rushing yards, and had 638 receiving yards. To date, no CFL running back has ever had 1,000 rushing and receiving yards in the same season. Could Whitaker go where no man has gone before?

After last year's final team media session was completed with the cameras and microphones turned off. I remember from a distance looking at Whitaker, and his sullen facial and body expression said it all. But seeing him how he was, I realized, this is someone who will learn from this and come back a better player.

For those who follow Whitaker on Twitter have known he has been ready to go since that semi-final loss in November. This year he could become the most dangerous weapon on the Alouettes roster since a lot of attention will be on his cohorts in Bratton, Green, and Richardson.

But more importantly, as a person, if anyone gets the honour of conversing 100 different times with Whitaker, you will come away impressed learning something new about him every time.

It has been 128 days since the team’s last loss, training camp starts in 76 days, and in 258 days the CFL will crown another champion.

Whitaker will most certainly have these dates circled, he has one goal in-mind, and that is to help this team winning the Grey Cup.

Follow me on Twitter @MoeKhan19

Listen to me every Friday morning on The Midnight Snack from midnight-2am, every Tuesday night on Gamepoints, and various shows on TSN 990.

Photo credit: uk.eurosport.yahoo.com

John Elway still calling the plays in Denver

As a longtime Denver Broncos fan, you can imagine the amount of Tweets, Facebook messages, texts, emails and phone calls I've been getting since Peyton Manning chose the Mile High city in his version of The Decision.
Elway related to Manning the best

For me, it's only reinforced the image of John Elway as a legendary, clutch figure, capable of pulling off great feats. 

I remember when I first starting watching football around the age of nine. My dad was watching a Broncos game and I was immediately fixated on the number seven jersey. Elway was the perfect mix of guts, leadership, toughness, athletic ability and magic, all rolled into one man. He was the ONLY reason the Broncos got to three Super Bowls in the 80's, before they would win two in the late 90's. He was known for The Drive and so many fourth quarter comebacks, too. 

Then John disappeared for a while from the national scene. He immersed himself into his car dealerships and even into the Arena Football League. But you knew he would be back eventually. Leaders like that aren't all that common. 

So what has he done as VP of the Broncos? He's taken them to a playoff berth in his first season and signed the most coveted free agent in the history of the league before the start of year two. Incredible. 

Some pundits call him horse face, but to me, his battle-tested face is reassuring. He's a guy you just want to follow behind. 

I almost interviewed him. It would have been the interview of my career - and life! But it was not to be. His manager nixed the repeated requests, sometimes more polite and than other times. 

And so now we turn our attention to the field and the Peyton Manning era. As much as I was pulling for Tim Tebow, I also know that he cannot co-exist on the same roster as Manning. Tebow is a special case, one that involves several concessions in a playbook, concessions Peyton Manning could do without. So Tebowing will move on from Colorado and Elway now turns his attention back to the roster. 

Thus far, I have been cautiously optimistic, preferring to see what pieces Elway can attract in order to ensure Peyton has the best chance at protection and success. If John can lure center Jeff Saturday to the fold, Peyton's comfort level instantly jumps a few notches. Ditto for tight end Dallas Clark. The veteran pass-catcher is the ultimate security blanket, so Elway better think of Peyton as Linus and go get his favorite blue fabric. 

And that's it. There's nothing left to do now but wonder about Peyton's neck and his pass protection. Oh, and the April draft to some degree as well. 

At any rate, the Elway magic is clearly alive and well in Denver. What a nice, reassuring feeling. 

Listen to Game Points with Matthew Ross on TSN 990 Radio in Montreal every Tuesday 9pm-12am and Sunday 6-8pm. Follow on Twitter @TSNmatthew

Sunday, 18 March 2012

De'Audra Dix Released by The Alouettes, Could This Speed Up the Mark Estelle Negotiations?

According to The Montreal Gazette, the Montreal Alouettes have released De’Audra Dix. Presently, he is still listed on the team’s website, but that should change by Monday morning.

Dix was apart of the back to back Grey Cup championship teams, as he provided depth in the secondary. Last year, he was released prior to the season, but was immediately brought back into the fold after defensiveback Jerald Brown went down with a season ending ankle injury against the B.C. Lions.

Dix's biggest play of the season came on a fumble return for a touchdown in a loss against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the Labour Day game.

Moving Forward

With Dix’s released, it seems all signs are pointing that cornerback, Mark Estelle could be back with the team this season.

To date, there has been no serious movement on the contract negotiations. But this situation could be expedited as general manager, Jim Popp will have some free money to sign Estelle.

Once again, the Alouettes will be back to their original 2011 starting secondary lineup. However, injuries curtailed this position group, and it showed in the team’s play.

With everyone healthy, arguably this group is in the upper echelon of the CFL.

As for Dix, there could be a market for him to be signed by another CFL team. But he will have to be patient for the time being, since there hasn’t been any recent signings in free agency.

An excellent team player, and a class act off the field, Dix was well respected by his peers. If he isn’t signed by a team in the near future, he could be brought back into the Alouettes fold if the secondary suffers an injury.

Follow me on Twitter @MoeKhan19

Listen to me every Friday morning on The Midnight Snack from midnight-2am, every Tuesday night on Gamepoints, and various shows on TSN 990.

Photo Credit: http://www.torontosun.com/

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Stevie Baggs Released by The Tiger-Cats, Could The Alouettes Have Any Interest?

According to The Hamilton Spectator writer, Drew Edwards, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats have released defensive end, Stevie Baggs.

I am surprised by the timing of this considering that CFL free agency is entering the dead period where teams have already addressed their immediate needs.

During the last two hours in reading Edwards tweets on Twitter, he displays quotes from both parties, as head coach George Cortez gave his viewpoint on the release, and Baggs did not hide his thoughts either.

Edwards believes it was money as the major factor why Baggs is no longer there.

Any Interest From Montreal?

Could the Montreal Alouettes have any interest in Baggs? Albeit at the right price it would not be surprising considering that general manager; Jim Popp has signed many defensive players this free agency period.

Popp isn’t shy to bring in competition at certain positions as he has already a surplus of linebackers.

Even last year he addressed the kicker position by trading for Sean Whyte from the B.C. Lions, drafting Brody McKnight from Montana University, and signing former Tiger-Cat, Sandro DeAngelis.

However, if the rumour of the team’s defense transitioning to a 3-4 base this year. Could Baggs be able to play as a defensive end? If not, could he attempt to make it as a linebacker, where already the team will have some intense battles.

If Baggs asking price is reasonable the Alouettes could pick him up. But if not Montreal, he does have a history with Saskatchewan Roughriders, and Winnipeg Blue Bombers. So they could call to inquire for his services.

Moving Forward

With the Tiger-Cats losing Justin Hickman to the Indianapolis Colts, and Baggs no longer apart of the organization. At the CFL Draft I believe they’re in-play for Boise State defensive end, Tyrone Crawford. There is no question that Crawford will get a long look in the NFL.

But it seems that Cortez could be patient if they decide to draft Crawford.

Furthermore, with Crawford’s southern Ontario roots, from a marketing standpoint it would add another local element to a team looking to build upon Andy Fantuz’s arrival back home.

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Matt Sheldon Will Have a Big Task in Identifying the Best Alouettes Linebackers

It is safe to believe that Montreal Alouettes head coach, Marc Trestman has his entire coaching staff ready to take charge for the 2012 season.

I am sure when the workforce will convene with Trestman, that every member will have a “Hello my name is” sticker on their shirt, until everyone is comfortable with each other.

With the hiring of former Buffalo Bills linebacker coach Matt Sheldon, it adds more intrigue to a position that will receive a lot of attention on who will be the starting quartet in week one if the team opts for the 3-4 defense.

Even though Sheldon's last coaching stop was with the Minnesota Vikings as defensive backs coach. It was during his time with the Bills, where he tutored some excellent linebackers in Buffalo from; London Fletcher, Angelo Crowell, and Paul Posluszny.

Under Sheldon's guidance, it was one of these linebackers who led the entire team in tackles. Between the three of them, they averaged per season; 123 tackles, 1.6 sacks, 2.2 interceptions, and 6.2 pass defense.

The key statistic between the NFL trio was their ability to play in pass coverage. Given that the CFL is a pass happy league. It will be imperative for this group of Alouettes linebackers to be even more agile to play the pass.

Now, I highly doubt in general that any CFL linebacker would be able to reach these lofty tackle numbers. But the importance that Sheldon will be preaching in making sure they use the proper tackling techniques will go a long way in the Alouettes goal of winning a Grey Cup.

Sheldon will have his work cut out for him, as there is an abundance of linebackers he will be working with and assessing if they possess the ability to be the starter.

Ultimately the final word will be decided by Trestman, and defensive coordinator Jeff Reinebold.

But it will be on Sheldon to make sure he has these players ready for each week. Let the competition begin.

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Photo credit: http://www.bleacherreport.com/

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Montreal Alouettes, Joey Abrams Could be the Next Hot Ticket Name in the CFL

The old saying is for every great husband, there is an incredible wife. In the case of Montreal Alouettes general manager, Jim Popp, he has an incredible scouting department.

There is no denying that Popp should start getting his bronze bust ready for the CFL Hall of Fame for the day he is enshrined.

He has made the Alouettes a perennial Grey Cup contender, and discovered enough players who could be starters on other CFL teams.

In early January, the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts sent shockwaves, when team owner, Jim Irsay had considered Popp for their vacant general manager job. In the end Irsay opted for Ryan Grigson.

At the time, the thought ran through many minds on who could take over the position had Popp been hired? The automatic answer is assistant general manager Marcel Desjardins, who is considered to be Popp’s right hand man, and was once the Hamilton Tiger-Cats general manager.

However, in 2007, Desjardins time down in Hamilton was short lived and was relieved of his duties after one season. Soon thereafter he came back to Montreal.

But remember this name for future reference. Joey Abrams. Abrams has been apart of the team’s organization since 2005, and has worked his way up the ladder in various positions to now being a full time scout, handling player contracts, and along with Uzooma Okeke scouting talent in Canada, and United States.

From my past encounters with Abrams at various football events, it is obvious he has the work ethic to run his own football organization. He is well on his way to cementing his status as the next hot name for future openings.

Right now, it is difficult to predict which CFL general managers are on the hot seat.

But during the offseason from early indications it seems it could be Toronto Argonauts general manager, Jim Barker. Barker has stepped aside from coaching the team to now focusing on his other duties as general manager.

But since the city of Toronto is hosting the 100th Grey Cup this year, they made a big splash by bringing in a big name quarterback in Ricky Ray, and have an entire new coaching staff.

There is a lot of pressure on the Argonauts to win it all this year.

If the team does not meet expectations, and ownership opts for a new general manager, Abrams could be their guy. Automatically he wouldn’t have to do any earth shattering moves with the coaching staff considering he is familiar with head coach Scott Milanovich.

I believe Milanovich will be given a few years to build this franchise into a contender.

Since Abrams, and Milanovich come from the Alouettes football tree, there wouldn’t be any major philosophical differences.

Right now, the good times are rolling for the Alouettes. However, with success comes the possibility of staff members leaving for new challenges in their careers.

A few years ago Popp lost one of his premier scouts in Brock Sunderland to the New York Jets. It could very well happen to the hardworking Abrams who's on his way to running his own franchise, the only question is where?

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Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Dwight Anderson Is Back In the Fold With The Alouettes

Earlier in the calendar year as first reported by The Montreal Gazette writer Herb Zurkowsky about Dwight Anderson coming back for his second season with the Montreal Alouettes.

It has now been confirmed by Anderson's camp through Zurkowsky's article that it is a new chapter with the team.

As I wrote in a previous Anderson piece, this is the second reincarnation of the signing. There is no denying that he is a very expressive player, and last year, according to reports that there may have been internal issues with him and head coach Marc Trestman.

With those obstacles now resolved, Trestman can go back to coaching, and molding the team the way it needs to be. Anderson can hopefully meet the expectations of the coaching, and management staffs with his on-field ability.

With his presence, it will give defensive coordinator, Jeff Reinebold the flexibility with the secondary, and allowing some of his players who were out of position in 2011 to go back to their natural spots.

The element that Anderson brings to the table, he will get under the skin of the opposition, and with Andy Fantuz, and Jason Barnes now in the same division. It will be an intriguing chess battle.

Had Anderson been released by the Alouettes, there would have been plenty of suitors lining up for his services.

The old saying is, “don’t look back, look forward”. That is what Anderson and the Alouettes are doing in resolving questions at-hand for him to be apart of the 2012 season.

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Saturday, 10 March 2012

Could The Alouettes and Impact be Fighting For the Montreal Business Dollars?

On the eve of the inaugural kickoff of the Montreal Impact’s entry into the MLS, the fans are abuzz with excitement that the top tier of North American soccer is back in this city.

How could this “impact” their city neighbours, the Montreal Alouettes?

From a marketing standpoint, the Impact has had numerous newspaper advertisements in both official languages promoting the team and its players in its lead up for tonight’s road game against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

They even hosted a glitzy fashion show promoting their new uniforms.

Given the location of Saputo Stadium in the east end of Montreal, they’re in the heart of a huge soccer community that could flock to see them play. In-fact the Alouettes will have a bird’s eye view from their coach’s office at the Olympic Stadium which is next door to the soccer site.

The Impact has a lot momentum going for them considering the local ownership group of the Saputo family has been instrumental in keeping soccer alive in the city.

Furthermore, the team is entertaining the thought of potentially bringing in an international superstar. The name that keeps coming up is Alessandro Del Piero who would garner a lot of attention from the large Montreal Italian community.

However, Impact season ticket sales are not off to a strong start. It could pickup considering this city is known to support what is trending, and they would be the new darlings for the fans.

As for the Alouettes situation, in conversing with a local media member who made the point that they may have stagnated with their product in-terms of promoting the team, and its players.

Essentially, the Alouettes winning success could be their demise because the fans might be taking it for granted on what has been a perennial Grey Cup team.

This summer, there is a growing sense that a family of four could spend their money towards the Impact than an Alouettes game.

As one Alouettes season ticket holder wrote to me on Twitter, his buddy will be dropping his football package after 2012 and instead will be getting 2013 Impact season tickets. Could many football fans follow suit, and invest their money in the soccer product?

Since 2004, when the Montreal Expos moved to Washington D.C. the Alouettes have been the second choice sport behind the Montreal Canadiens amongst the local community.

With the Impact moving up to MLS, it could dilute business from a football team that had some bumps during the 2011 season in selling tickets.

In their home opener against the B.C. Lions, the then two-time defending champions were far from a sellout, and had one section in the northeast stands mostly empty.

It definitely was a sore eye on television. President, the explained it was due to the construction on Pins Avenue, and a lot people were leaving for the Canada Day long weekend.

Throughout the season, it wasn’t as smooth as there were spots of empty seats around Molson stadium. During the playoff home loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the team only had 33,051 fans in attendance.

In speaking to a source very close to the Impact they’re content with their home schedule. But are ecstatic that the MLS coordinated their April home game against Toronto FC on the same day the Canadiens play the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Bell Centre.

The team fully expects an influx of southern Ontario fans in attendance for the first ever MLS tilt against their 401 highway rivals.

Prior to each season, there are certain dates that CFL teams will request the league office to schedule them on. The football schedule does intersect with the NHL and MLS seasons, then why couldn’t the Alouettes ask the CFL to have their home games on the same weekend as their city counterparts if it involves the Maple Leafs, Toronto FC, Vancouver Canucks, or Whitecaps?

Economically all the properties would benefit due to the fans wanting to support their teams during the weekend.

The Alouettes are second tenants at Molson Stadium, since priority is given to McGill University sports on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Some passionate fans have echoed the same reason that it is awfully tough to attend an Alouettes home game on a Sunday afternoon during the eye of the NFL games.

Maybe it is time the Alouettes start lobbying the McGill administration for better available start times during the fall so they don’t become second fiddle to the NFL. I am curious to see how a Friday night home game in October would feel like?

I give full credit to the football team in making football popular product to come watch. In 1997, when the team was near extinct, former president, Larry Smith and his group worked hard to keep football going. They have developed a cozy fan base that many diehards will continue to show up.

Moreover, the Alouettes get high marks for their community work. They have had their players spend a lot of time in helping out the schools, football camps, and various charities.

There are many players the Alouettes could market, but it seems the average fan only knows Anthony Calvillo. At some point, when Calvillo retires. The marketing department must figure out alternative plans and starting promoting the next generation such as Shea Emry, S.J. Green, Jamel Richardson, and Brandon Whitaker.

At the end of the day, this will be an intriguing summer. Will the Alouettes have difficulty selling their product against the sport of soccer that has been culturally ingrained in the community of Montreal.

Starting next week, we will find out as the Impact will host the Chicago Fire in their home opener at the Olympic Stadium, and could expect a home crowd close to 50,000 fans.

Otherwise, both clubs could potentially water down each other’s fan base in trying to attract their business.

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Photo credit: http://www.tourisme-montreal.org/

Thursday, 8 March 2012

The Future of The Alouettes Quarterback Position

In a recent Twitter discussion, a passionate Alouettes partisan echoed the same nervousness as many Montreal fans in what could happen if quarterback Anthony Calvillo gets hurt, and who would be his future replacement?

Looking inside the division, it seems that the Alouettes rivals all have a solid plan B in place.

The Toronto Argonauts did a dramatic overhaul by trading for starter Ricky Ray, and signing Jarious Jackson, who is considered to be an excellent backup.

The Tiger-Cats felt it was time for a new infusion at the pivot position, so they acquired Henry Burris for Kevin Glenn. His backup will be Quinton Porter who did show flashes that he could potentially be a decent player in this league.

As for the defending division champions, Winnipeg Blue Bombers, they will continue with the success of Buck Pierce being backed up by Alex Brink.

With the current quarterback situation in Montreal, without question the Alouettes will be favourites to win the division, and contend for another Grey Cup.

But with the clock ticking to retirement for Calvillo, who could be the team’s next option?

We have continuously heard that Adrian McPherson is the heir apparent to Calvillo’s throne. But from the small sample of McPherson’s on-field work, could he take the mantle and continue the strong tradition of excellent quarterbacks in the organization?

Currently on the team’s roster at this position, the team has listed Calvillo, McPherson, Josh Neiswander, and Ricky Santos.

With all due respect, with the exception of McPherson, the other backups do not exude confidence that this position is in good hands for the post-Calvillo era.

General manager Jim Popp and his personnel staff have to be given full credit for identifying talent, and stockpiling each position where the second stringers would be starters on other CFL teams. However, rightfully so in the past, Popp hasn’t made any earth shattering moves to address the quarterback situation because it hasn't been an issue.

But as the seconds inch closer to Calvillo’s final chapter, the team needs to decide if McPherson is their future quarterback. He has been first class on where he stands in relation to Calvillo.

At some point there has to be a silent boiling point for McPherson on wanting a real shot as a starter. Otherwise, they should allow him to pursue other CFL avenues.

For one,Anthony Calvillo that has come through the Alouettes organization, there have been Tavares Bolden, Dan Gonzalez, Nealon Greene, Stanley Jackson, Corby Jones, Eric Kresser, Matt Lytle, Will Proctor, Ell Roberson, and Tederal White, who no one cares to remember.

At some point, Jim Popp and head coach Marc Trestman must figure out who will be the next player to assume the captain’s seat once the future CFL hall of famer retires.

Every other position has talent spilling at the seams, except for the most important ingredient, quarterback. Who knows, maybe Popp is in competition with the Miami Dolphins to sign Peyton Manning.

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Wednesday, 7 March 2012

CFL Mock Draft 1.0, The Alouettes Potential First Choice

With the CFL E-Camp now completed. I am taking my first attempt to see if my mock draft is anywhere close to what the actual draft selection will be in early May.

Without further delay, here is my initial mock draft, enjoy.

Saskatchewan Roughriders: Austin Pasztor, OL, Virginia: Without question the best prospect in the draft, Pasztor could conceivably get an NFL tryout, and may make a CFL team wait for his services. Already the Roughriders have signed Dominic Picard, and Brendon Labatte to solidify their offensive line. But to potentially add another stud lineman, will only help keep their important piece on offense in quarterback, Darian Durant upright and healthy.

Edmonton Eskimos (Via Toronto): Shamawd Chambers, WR, Laurier: General manager, Eric Tillman missed out on signing Andy Fantuz. Already it has been a rough public relations offseason as the Eskimos traded quarterback Ricky Ray to the Toronto Argonauts, and parted ways with receiver Jason Barnes. Tillman has signed wide receiver Greg Carr. But potential new starting quarterback, Steven Jyles will need as many targets, and Chambers could be Fantuz 2.0 for Tillman and the team. Furthermore, Chambers could very well get an NFL opportunity. But with his size, speed, and huge upside, it will be tough to pass him up.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats: Ben Heenan, OL, Saskatchewan: His stock has been skyrocketing since the East-West Shrine Bowl game in January. The Tiger-Cats have solved their quarterback, receiver, and running back positions with their offseason acquisitions. However, their offensive line needs some help. With Marwan Hage coming off injury, and pending status of Moe Petrus who could explore NFL opportunities, Heenan would be an excellent addition to help open up lanes for running back Martell Mallet, and protect quarterback Henry Burris. Heenan himself could get an NFL opportunity. So he might not be an immediate need for the team.

B.C. Lions (via Montreal): Tyrone Crawford, DL, Boise State: If Crawford is available, the defending champions would be ecstatic to select him. Yes, history has shown the team lost out on former first round selection in Danny Watkins to the NFL this could apply with Crawford. But the Lions do not have many holes to fill except for defensive end. With the retirement of Brent Johnson, Crawford would be a perfect replacement for him. If Crawford opts for the NFL. The Lions could patiently wait for his services.

Calgary Stampeders: Kirby Fabien, OL, Calgary: Last year, John Hufnagel selected Anthony Parker from the University of Calgary. This year, he could continue the local tradition and take Fabien. The Stampeders offensive linemen had a tough 2011 season. Fabien presents an opportunity to alter the ratio. Furthermore, Fabien is an appealing prospect. At 6’6, nearly 300 pounds his long arms could help steer away any defenders from new quarterback Drew Tate. This isn’t a stretch to compare Fabien to Montreal Alouettes all-star, Josh Bourke.

Edmonton Eskimos: Frederic Plesius, LB, Laval: He arguably is one of the most gifted athletes in this year’s draft. During his collegiate career, Plesius has received the highest football education from his time at Baylor University, and Laval University. He could immediately contribute on special teams as he has been a force in the last two years. Some of speculated whether or not he will be converted to defensive end? For the Eskimos who have lost linebackers Rod Davis, and Mark Restelli to the Montreal Alouettes. Plesius could be a solid replacement. He is great in defending the run. Plesius has a high football IQ, and will learn from a defensive mind coach in Kavis Reed.

B.C. Lions: Matt Norman, OL, Western: This might be a surprise selection. But the Montreal native has quietly put together a stellar career at the University of Western. He did fairly well at the E-Camp. The Lions do not have many needs. But if there is one position they could potentially look at replenishing their stock is in their offensive line. With Angus Reid entering the final turn of his career, Norman could come in and learn from him and eventually take over at centre, or guard. Norman possesses a quiet demeanor, but he could very well be entering the discussion of many CFL draft boards.

Players Who Could Jump Up

Ameet Pall, DL, Wofford: Being undersized Pall has defied expectations as he has been stellar at Wofford University. The only question, could he continue to dominate playing bigger and better competition? Furthermore, whoever decides to select him, could that coaching staff make him an edge linebacker? A lot of intrigue in Pall’s skill sets. He has a great motor, but for his sake, he needs to land in situation where they will use his strengths.

Jason Medeiros, OL, McMaster: Medeiros is a great value pick. Even though his University teammate, Kyle Quinlan received a lot of attention during their Vanier Cup run. A lot of Marauder members would heap praise on Medeiros for his hard work, and stout blocking. He has excellent size, a mean streak and could very well jump into the first round.

Ismael Bamba, Simon Charbonneau-Campeau, WR, Sherbrooke: Both of these players had splendid seasons with the Vert et Or. Entering E-Camp, both players were ranked very highly. However, there are not many teams in need of a non-import receiver considering that four were selected in the first round of last year’s draft. But if a team is willing to spend their selection on one of these two players, it would be a solid long term investment pick.

Alouettes Draft Plans

Currently the Alouettes do not possess a first round selection. But sitting with the 11th overall pick, they could go in many directions.

I still believe that defensive tackle, Jabar Westerman of Eastern Michigan would be a good fit for the team. As mentioned in my previous articles, the team needs to shore up their non-import ratio on the defensive line.

Westerman fits the bill with his size, skills, and status. As being whispered by many pundits that the Alouettes could potentially be transitioning to a 3-4 base alignment in 2012. He would be a perfect backup to Aaron Hunt, and could play as a defensive end in the formation.

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Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Who Excelled at the CFL E-Camp, and Could The Alouettes Have An Eye for These Prospects?

With CFL E-Camp now in the rear view mirror. All the teams will hunker down in their complexes, go over game film of the prospects, and re-assess their draft boards.

As for the Montreal Alouettes, I believe they came away content on their potential targets in this year’s selection process.

Here are two players that have increased their draft value that could be on the Alouettes draft board.

One player who had a solid weekend was Eastern Michigan defensive lineman, Jabar Westerman. At the listed size of 6’2, 285 pounds, he would add more depth to the team’s defensive line.

Even though he didn’t perform well in testing only mustering 22 repetitions on the bench press which was third lowest amongst his position group. He did run a respectable 40-yard dash in 5.16 seconds.

He displayed good agility in the one on one drills, by having an explosive first step off the football.

Remember, the Alouettes need to add some more non-import size to their ratio in the 3-4 defense, and Westerman fits the bill.

Another player to keep an eye out for is Queen's receiver, Giovanni Aprile who has solidified himself in this very deep draft at the receiver position.

Rightfully so, a lot of attention was bestowed on Laurier Golden Hawks pass catcher, Shamawd Chambers who wowed the scouts in attendance with his testing, and on field performance.

But since watching Aprile at the CIS East-West game in London, Ontario last May, he has continued to display the necessary traits to play at the next level.

He had a great weekend, performing well during individual testing by running a solid 4.61 in the 40-yard dash, and having the highest vertical jump of 39.5 inches. In the three cone drill considered very important by scouts he did better than Chambers by completing it in 6.54 seconds.

He might not immediately contribute as a receiver, but with his speed, he will help on special teams. For those who best remember the tough season of the Alouettes special teams, any help would be an upgrade.

Aprile is an excellent value pick, and could very put himself into consideration of potentially being chosen in the top-25 of the draft.

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TSN 990.

Photo credit: http://www.queensjournal.ca/

Monday, 5 March 2012

Olympic Stadium an embarrassment to Montreal, Quebec and Canada

You know when you write a headline for shock value, overstating something for effect? Well this isn't one of those headlines. With the latest Olympic Stadium debacle, where a parking lot chunk of concrete fell, this albatross around the necks of Montrealers is once again being called into question.
The Big Owe - what a piece of crap

You remember the Olympic Stadium, right? The most pathetic, out-of-date structure in the history of sports venues? It's the one in the wrong part of town, with too much of a walk-up to actually get inside. You know, the one we all call the Big Owe (coined by the late Ted Tevan). It's that engineering marvel that isn't permitted to be used in the winter months due to snow and safety concerns. Fantastic. 

I am sickened, saddened and angered by the constant reminder of Montreal being the only large city in North America without an indoor/retractable roof facility with over 35,000 seats. 

When you think of just how close the city and province was to the building of Labatt Park back in the late 90's, in an effort to save the Montreal Expos, it almost makes you want to cry. Instead, Expos fans were forced to sit in the echo-rich Big Owe, wondering how something this ugly, uncomfortable and maddening was ever designed. 

Add in the fact that a 2010 report came out calling for another $300 million to be spent on this monstrosity, and it stirs up ideas of demonstrations and sit-ins. Enough is enough. Get rid of this sore on the metaphorical ass of Montreal and let's look respectable again. 

Oh but wait, reports also have indicated that it would cost too much to demolish the Olympic Stadium, estimated in the $500 million range. So I know, let's spend more and more money on this beast and keep feeding it until we've spent the equivalent of 15 new downtown stadiums. 

Everyone knows just how passionate I am about baseball and how I lament its departure from Montreal. But come on, people! Even the artsy-fartsy types out there have got to agree that this East-End joke-of-venue is getting out of hand. At this point, my blood is boiling to the point where it's difficult to type. 

If you take a look around North America, Montreal looks sadly passĂ©. In a world where cities like Milwaukee and Cincinnati have new parks and stadiums, how is Montreal in this predicament? It has come to the point where visiting bands have to build their own stadiums rather than get anywhere near excrement-like bane of every Montrealer's existence. 

So to recap, we're still spending hundreds of millions of dollars on the Olympic Stadium, it is unstable, it cannot be used during certain months of the year, the atmosphere is cavernous and it's located in an undesirable area of the city. Yep, let's pour more money into it and say we're not in need of something better. 

You don't think that a new stadium wouldn't get its uses? This is the city of events! Bands, monster truck rallies, raves, football and soccer games, conventions, etc... The appeal of Montreal is so incredible that a new venue would be the missing piece to our city's re-summit as THE place to be in this country. 

But alas, we're doomed to continue to be overlooked by big-thinking concert promoters, sports leagues, and any other well-to-do individual or organization considering Montreal as a destination for great things. 

Remember when Rodger Brulotte said that he knew a group of businessmen exploring the idea of trying to get a Major League Baseball team back here? Well Rodger, tell them to step up! Now is the time. The government of Quebec and the city of Montreal are feeling shame and frustration. This is the time to inquire about how a new facility could put Montreal back on the map. 

Don't be shy, Rodger, tell them to belt it out over every airwave. Because of this mysterious group truly does exist, they've just been dealt a couple of nice pocket cards. 

Follow Matthew on Twitter @TSNmatthew. Listen to TSN 990 Radio for Game Points, Tuesdays and Sundays in Montreal or online at www.tsn990.ca. 

Friday, 2 March 2012

Top 10 MMA Rankings- March 2012

Courtesy of David Simon at www.ringridereport.net/

This is the 8th monthly installment of the Ringside Report official Top 10 MMA rankings. Note: These rankings were compiled and debated on the February 29, 2012 episode of Ringside Report Radio.

Brock Lesnar’s retirement appears official and he is removed from the Top 10 this month. Antonio Silva moves up from 9th in February to take Lesnar’s spot at 8th this month. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira moves up from 10th to 9th and Shane Carwin enters the Top 10 at number 10. No Heavyweights in the Top 10 are scheduled for competition this month.

Heavyweights- 207-265 lbs.

1. Junior Dos Santos (14-1, UFC HW champion) Last fight: KO win over Cain Velasquez on November 12, 2011 to win UFC HW title. Next Fight: defending UFC HW title versus Alistair Overeem on May 26, 2012 at UFC 146

2. Cain Velasquez (9-1) Last fight: KO loss to Junior Dos Santos on November 12, 2011. Next Fight: versus Frank Mir in summer 2012

3.Alistair Overeem (36-11-1) Last fight: TKO win over Brock Lesnar at UFC 141 on December 30, 2011. Next Fight: versus Junior Dos Santos on May 26, 2012 at UFC 146

4. Josh Barnett (31-5) Last fight: submission win over Sergei Kharitonov on September 10, 2011. Next fight: versus Daniel Cormier in Strikeforce HW G.P. finals in 2012

5. Daniel Cormier (9-0) Last fight: KO win over Antonio Silva on September 10, 2011. Next fight: versus Josh Barnett in Strikeforce HW G.P. finals in 2012

6. Frank Mir (16-5) Last fight: submission win over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira on December 10, 2011 at UFC 140. Next Fight: versus Cain Velasquez in summer 2012

7. Fabricio Werdum (15-5-1) Last fight: UD win Roy Nelson on February 4, 2012 at UFC 143. Next fight: TBA

8. Antonio Silva (16-3) Last fight: KO loss to Daniel Cormier on September 10, 2012. Next fight: TBA

9. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (33-7-1-1) Last fight: submission loss to Frank Mir on December 10, 2011 at UFC 140. Next Fight: TBA

10. Shane Carwin (12-2) Last fight: UD loss to Junior Dos Santos on June 11, 2011. Next fight: TBA

Honourable mentions: Sergei Kharitonov, Mark Hunt, Fedor Emelianenko, Cheick Kongo, Shane Carwin, Gabriel Gonzaga. Brock Lesnar (retired)

Quinton “Rampage” Jackson’s decision loss to Ryan Bader on February 25 drops him from 6th to 10th in the rankings. Phil Davis bumps up from 7th to take Rampage’s spot at 6th overall. Alexander Gustafsson jumps from 8th to 7th, Gegard Mousasi goes from 9th to 8th and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira goes from 10th to 9th. There are no Top 10 Light-Heavyweights scheduled for action in March.

Light-Heavyweights- 205 lbs.

1. Jon Jones (15-1, UFC Light-Heavyweight Champion) Last fight: submission win over Lyoto Machida on December 10, 2011. Next fight: versus Rashad Evans for UFC LHW title at UFC 145 on April 21, 2012.

2. Dan Henderson (29-8) Last fight: UD win over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua on November 19, 2011. Next Fight: TBA

3. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (20-6) Last Fight: UD loss to Dan Henderson on November 19, 2011. Next Fight: TBA

4. Lyoto Machida (17-3) Last fight: submission loss to Jon Jones on December 10, 2011 at UFC 140. Next Fight: TBA

5. Rashad Evans (17-1-1D) Last fight: Unanimous Decision win over Phil Davis on January 28, 2012 at UFC on Fox 2. Next fight: versus Jon Jones for UFC LHW title at UFC 145 on April 21, 2012.

6. Phil Davis (9-1) Last fight: UD loss to Rashad Evans on January 28, 2012 at UFC on Fox 2. Next fight: TBA

7. Alexander Gustafsson (13-1) Last fight: TKO win over Vladimir Matyushenko at UFC 141 on December 30, 2011. Next fight: versus Antonio Rogerio Nogueira on April 14, 2012 at UFC on Fuel 2.

8. Gegard Mousasi (32-3-2) Last fight: Unanimous Decision win over Ovince St-Preux on December 17, 2011. Next fight: TBA

9. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (20-5) Last fight: TKO win over Tito Ortiz on December 10, 2011 at UFC 140. Next fight: versus Alexander Gustafsson on April 14, 2012 at UFC on Fuel 2.

10. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (32-10) Last fight: UD loss to Ryan Bader on February 25, 2012 at UFC 144. Next fight: TBA

Honourable mentions: Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal, Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante, Forrest Griffin, Ryan Bader, Tito Ortiz

Yushin Okami’s TKO loss to Tim Boetsch on February 25 drops him from 3rd to 6th. Boetsch becomes an honorable mention and could enter the Top 10 with another impressive victory. Mark Munoz takes Okami’s spot at number 3 improving from 4th last month. Vitor Befort goes from 5th to 4th and Michael Bisping from 6th to 5th. No Top 10 middleweights will be in compeition in March.

Middleweights- 185 lbs.

1. Anderson Silva (31-4, UFC Middleweight Champion) Last fight: TKO win over Yushin Okami on August 27, 2011. Next fight: versus Chael Sonnen on June 16, 2012 at UFC 147 in Brazil.

2. Chael Sonnen (27-11-1D) Last fight: Unanimous decision win over Michael Bisping on January 28, 2012 at UFC on Fox 2. Next Fight: versus Anderson Silva on June 16, 2012 at UFC 147 in Brazil.

3. Mark Munoz (12-2) Last fight: TKO win over Chris Leben on November 5, 2011. Next fight: TBA

4. Vitor Belfort (21-9) Last fight: submission win over Anthony Johnson at UFC 142 on January 14, 2012. Next fight: versus Wanderlei Silva on June 16, 2012 at UFC 147 in Brazil.

5. Michael Bisping (22-4) Last fight: UD loss to Chael Sonnen on January 28, 2012 at UFC on Fox 2. Next fight: TBA

6. Yushin Okami (26-7) Last fight: TKO loss to Tim Boetsch on February 25, 2012 at UFC 144. Next fight: TBA

7. Demian Maia (15-4) Last fight: UD loss to Chris Weidman on January 28, 2012 at UFC on Fox 2. Next Fight: TBA

8. Brian Stann (11-4) Last fight: submission loss to Chael Sonnen on October 8, 2011. Next fight: versus Alessio Sakara on April 14, 2012 at UFC on FX 2

9. Luke Rockhold (9-1, Strikeforce MW champion) Last fight: TKO win over Keith Jardine on January 8, 2012 at Strikeforce: Rockhold v. Jardine. Next fight: TBA

10. Hector Lombard (31-2-1-1NC, Bellator MW champion) Last fight: TKO win over Trevor Prangley on November 19, 2011. Next Fight: rumoured to be facing Mamed Khalidov on May 10, 2012 for KSW 19 in Poland.

Honourable mentions: Mamed Khalidov, Jorge Santiago, Rousimar Palhares, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, Wanderlei Silva, Chris Weidman, Tim Boetsch

Carlos Condit jumps from 4th to 2nd overall with a unanimous decision over Nick Diaz on February 4 for the UFC interim welterweight title. Nick Diaz drops from 2nd to 4th. Jake Shields’ decision victory over Yoshihiro Akiyama on February 25 is enough to bring him up from 7th to 6th. B.J. Penn remains inactive and possibly retired and drops from 6th to 8th. Jake Ellenberger’s decision victory over Diego Sanchez on February 15 helps him go from 8th in February to 7th overall in March. No Top 10 Welterweights are scheduled for action this month.

Welterweights- 170 lbs.

1. Georges St-Pierre (22-2 UFC Welterweight Champion) Last fight: UD win over Jake Shields on April 30, 2011 Next fight: TBA

2. Carlos Condit (28-5) Last fight: UD win over Nick Diaz on February 4, 2012 at UFC 143 for interim UFC Welterweight Championship. Next fight: TBA

3. Josh Koscheck (17-5) Last fight: SD win over Mike Pierce on February 4, 2012 at UFC 143. Next fight: versus Johny Hendricks at UFC on Fox 3 on May 5, 2012.

4. Nick Diaz (26-8-1D) Last fight: UD loss to Carlos Condit on February 4, 2012 at UFC 143 for interim UFC Welterweight Championship. Next fight: TBA

5. Jon Fitch (23-4-1NC-1D) Last fight: KO loss to Johny Hendricks on December 30, 2011 at UFC 141. Next fight: TBA

6. Jake Shields (27-6-1D) Last fight: UD win over Yoshihiro Akiyama on February 25, 2012 at UFC 144. Next fight: TBA

7. Jake Ellenberger (27-5) Last fight: UD win over Diego Sanchez on February 15, 2012 at UFC on Fuel TV 1. Next fight: TBA

8. B.J. Penn (16-8-2) Last fight: UD loss to Nick Diaz on October 29, 2011 at UFC 137. Next fight: TBA

9. Johny Hendricks (12-1) Last fight: KO win over Jon Fitch on December 30, 2011 at UFC 141. Next fight: versus Josh Koscheck at UFC on Fox 3 on May 5, 2012.

10. Rory MacDonald (12-1) Last fight: TKO win over Mike Pyle on August 6, 2011 at UFC 133. Next fight: versus Che Mills on April 21, 2012 at UFC 145.

Honourable mentions: Martin Kampmann, Dong Hyun Kim, John Hathaway, Charlie Brenneman, Thiago Alves, Rick Story, Diego Sanchez, Tyron Woodley.

Benson Henderson’s decision victory over Frankie Edgar gave him the UFC Lightweight championship and moves him from 4th last month to 1st overall in March. Frankie Edgar drops from 1st to 2nd. Gray Maynard drops from 2nd to 3rd and Gilbert Melendez goes from 3rd to 4th. Anthony Pettis’ KO victory over Joe Lauzon on February 25 is enough for him to jump from 6th to 5th, dropping Clay Guida from 5th down to 6th. No Top 10 Lightweights are scheduled for competition in March.

Lightweights- 155 lbs.

1. Benson Henderson (16-2) Last fight: UD win over Frankie Edgar on February 25, 2012 at UFC 144 for UFC LW title. Next fight: TBA

2. Frankie Edgar (14-2-1, UFC Lightweight Champion) Last fight: UD loss to Benson Henderson on February 25, 2012 at UFC 144 to lose UFC LW title. Next fight: TBA

3. Gray Maynard (10-1-1D-1NC) Last fight: KO loss to Frankie Edgar on October 8, 2011 at UFC 136. Next fight: TBA

4. Gilbert Melendez (20-2, Strikeforce LW champion) Last fight: UD win over Jorge Masvidal to defend Strikeforce LW title on December 17, 2011. Next fight: TBA

5. Anthony Pettis (15-2) Last fight: KO win over Joe Lauzon on February 25, 2012 at UFC 144. Next fight: TBA

6. Clay Guida (29-12) Last fight: UD loss to Benson Henderson on November 12, 2011. Next Fight: TBA

7. Shinya Aoki (30-5-1NC, DREAM LW champion) Last fight: UD win over Satoru Kitaoka to defend DREAM LW title on December 31, 2011 at DREAM New Year’s Eve 2011. Next fight: rumoured to be fighting Eddie Alvarez at Bellator 66 on April 20, 2012

8. Nate Diaz (15-7) Last fight: Unanimous Decision win over Donald Cerrone on December 30, 2011 at UFC 141. Next fight: versus Jim Miller on May 5, 2012 at UFC on Fox 3.

9. Jim Miller (21-3) Last Fight: submission win over Melvin Guillard on January 20, 2012 at UFC on FX 1. Next fight: versus Nate Diaz on May 5, 2012 at UFC on Fox 3.

10. Donald Cerrone (17-4-1) Last Fight: UD loss to Nate Diaz on December 30, 2011 at UFC 141. Next fight: versus Jeremy Stephens on May 15, 2012 at UFC on Fuel 3.

Honourable mentions: Rafael Dos Anjos, Jorge Masvidal, Joe Lauzon, Edson Barboza, Eddie Alvarez, Michael Chandler, Takanori Gomi

Zero movement in the Featherweight division this month, no Top 10 Featherweights scheduled for action in March.

Featherweights-145 lbs.

1. Jose Aldo (21-1, UFC Featherweight Champion) Last fight: KO win over Chad Mendes at UFC 142 on January 14, 2012. Next fight: TBA

2. Chad Mendes (11-1) Last fight: KO loss to Jose Aldo at UFC 142 on January 14, 2012. Next fight: TBA

3. Hatsu Hioki (26-4-2) Last fight: UD win over Bart Palaszewski on February 25, 2012 at UFC 144. Next fight: TBA

4. Diego Nunes (17-2) Last fight: UD win over Manvel Gamburyan on December 30, 2011 at UFC 141. Next fight: versus Dennis Siver at UFC on Fuel TV 2 on April 14, 2012.

5. Mark Hominick (20-10) Last fight: KO loss to Chan Sung Jung on December 10, 2011 at UFC 140. Next fight: versus Eddie Yagin on April 21, 2012 at UFC 145.

6. Erik Koch (13-1) Last fight: UD win over Jonathan Brookins on September 17, 2011. Next fight: TBA

7. Charles Oliveira (15-2-1) Last Fight: submission win over Eric Wisely on January 28, 2012. Next Fight: TBA

8. Darren Elkins (13-2) Last fight: UD win over Zhang Tiequan on October 8, 2011 at UFC 136. Next fight: rumoured to be versus Diego Brandao on May 26, 2012 at UFC 146.

9. Dustin Poirier (12-1) Last Fight: submission win over Max Holloway on February 4, 2012 at UFC 143. Next fight: versus Chan Sung Jung on May 15, 2012 at UFC on Fuel 3.

10. Chan Sung Jung (12-3) Last fight: KO win over Mark Hominick on December 10, 2011 at UFC 140. Next fight: versus Dustin Poirier on May 15, 2012 at UFC on Fuel 3.

Honourable mentions: Joe Warren, Marlon Sandro, Bart Palaszewski, Patricio “Pitbull” Freire, Pat Curran, Yuri Alcantara, Cub Swanson, Ricardo Lamas, Jonathan Brookins, Kenny Florian (retired).

Renan Barao’s decision victory over Scott Jorgensen on February 4 bumps him up from 6th to 3rd overall. Scott Jorgensen drops from 2nd to 4th. Urijah Faber moves up from 3rd to 2nd overall. Takeya Mizugaki’s decision loss to Chris Cariaso on February 25 drops him out of the Top 10. Ivan Menjivar’s submission win over John Albert on February 15 helps him enter the Top 10 at tenth overall. No Top 10 Bantamweights are scheduled for action this month.

Bantamweights- 135 lbs.

1. Dominick Cruz (19-1, UFC Bantamweight Champion) Last fight: UD win over Demetrious Johnson on October 1, 2011 to defend UFC BW title. Next fight: expected to face Urijah Faber for UFC BW title on July 7, 2012 at UFC 148.

2. Urijah Faber (26-5) Last fight: submission win over Brian Bowles on November 19, 2011. Next Fight: expected to face Dominick Cruz for UFC BW title on July 7, 2012 at UFC 148.

3. Renan Barao (28-1-1) Last fight: UD win over Scott Jorgensen on February 4, 2012 at UFC 143. Next fight: TBA

4. Scott Jorgensen (13-5) Last fight: UD loss to Renan Barao on February 4, 2012 at UFC 143. Next fight: TBA

5. Brian Bowles (10-2) Last fight: submission loss to Urijah Faber on November 19, 2011. Next Fight: TBA

6. Miguel Torres (39-4) Last fight: UD win over Nick Pace on November 19, 2011. Next Fight: versus Michael McDonald on April 21, 2012 at UFC 145.

7. Bibiano Fernandes (11-3) Last fight: UD win over Rodolfo Marques and TKO win over Antonio Banuelos to win DREAM BW Grand Prix on December 31, 2011 at DREAM New Year’s Eve 2011. Next fight: TBA

8. Michael McDonald (14-1) Last fight: KO win over Alex Soto on November 19, 2011. Next Fight: versus Miguel Torres on April 21, 2012 at UFC 145.

9. Brad Pickett (20-6) Last fight: submission loss to Renan Barao on November 5, 2011. Next fight: versus Damacio Page at UFC on Fuel 2 on April 14, 2012.

10. Ivan Menjivar (24-8) Last fight: submission win over John Albert on February 15, 2012 at UFC on Fuel TV. Next fight: TBA

Honourable mentions: Eddie Wineland Antonio Banuelos, Yves Jabouin. John Dodson, Zach Makovsky, Nick Denis, Mike Easton, Takeya Mizugaki, Chris Cariaso, TJ Dillashaw