LIVESTREAM: CFL Preseason – Ottawa REDBLACKS @Montreal Alouettes, Thurs. June 6, 7:30p EDT (1:30a CEDT)

MONTREAL — As the pre-season winds down, the Montreal Alouettes and Ottawa REDBLACKS  have some difficult decisions ahead of them.

The East Division rivals close out the exhibition season on Thursday night at Montreal’s Percival-Molson Memorial Stadium, with many players getting one last chance to make an impression before the final rosters are decided.

For the Alouettes there’s plenty of competition heading into the finale — but none bigger than the one at quarterback, where four players are vying for the opportunity to start.

The apparent front-runnerAntonio Pipkin, will make his second straight start after completing just one of five passing attempts for nine yards in a 45-20 pre-season loss to the Argos last week.

Vernon Adams Jr.Jeff Mathews and Matthew Shiltz are also expected to see the field along with Canadian Hugo Richard.

Head Coach Mike Sherman is hoping a good pre-game walkthrough carries over to Thursday’s contest.

“I just want them to play smart,” Sherman told “We had a great practice [Wednesday] going through our situations. They performed well mentally and I want that to carry over to [Thursday’s] game.”

The Alouettes were outclassed in all facets in their pre-season opener, though many of their starters, especially on the defensive side of the ball, did not accompany the team to Toronto.

Though recent signing Ciante Evans remains sidelined, Tommie Campbell and Taylor Loffler will make their 2019 debuts in the Alouettes’ secondary, while veteran defensive end John Bowman, who’s back for a 14th season with Montreal, will also make the start.

Getting the start at halfback is first-year CFL defender Marcus Cromartie, who’s trying to earn a roster spot after 22 games south of the border in the NFL.

“I like what I see from our team,” said Cromartie. “We are coming together and getting better every day. The loss to Toronto was humbling, but as long as we get better, the results will come.”

On the offensive side of the ball, Canadian tackle Tyler Johnstone is back in the Als’ lineup, but will serve as a backup as the club turns to American Na’Ty Rodgers.

How the O-line shakes down will have ratio implications elsewhere, as Malcolm Carter looks to seal up a starting job in the receiving corps. Carter and international pass-catcher Jake Wieneke have both been impressive this spring for the Alouettes, as the Als look to complement their other weapons in a talented receiving corps.

“You got young guys like Eugene Lewis, who can learn from established vets like B.J. Cunningham and DeVier Posey,” said Pipkin. “All those guys at once on the field is a matchup nightmare for many opponents. I look forward to putting the ball in their hands.”

While the Alouettes’ quarterback competition goes down to the wire, the REDBLACKS have settled things early in the nation’s capital, where Rick Campbell named Dominique Davis the starting quarterback this week.

Davis was in competition with free agent addition Jonathon Jennings, but a strong performance against Hamilton, combined with Davis’ experience running the offence, made him the obvious choice going into the regular season.

“I just really liked his approach,” said Ottawa’s head coach, Rick Campbell. “He’s been really consistent and I think he has a really good command of the offence, the players believe in him.

“Dominique being here all last year, and the game was another thing that showed he’s a guy that can run the show and feel comfortable with it. I liked his approach and demeanour, and he’s a very steady guy which is an important quality as a quarterback. He’s just comfortable in that scenario because he’s been around here before.”

Jennings will assume the role of backup, but neither he nor Davis will play on Thursday in Montreal as Will Arndt gets the call in the finale along with Danny Collins. The third-string quarterback position is one of many spots up in the air as the regular season fast approaches.

“This is going to be an important game because there are going to be some things decided as to whether or not a guy is on the active roster or the practice roster,” said Campbell. “We really want to play the new guys a whole bunch.

“It’s different when you get a quarter and you’re rolling through people all the time. A lot of these guys, it’s going to be more like a regular season game in that they’re going to play all or most of the game at the position they’re playing, and they’ll also play special teams.

“We want to get a real look at a guy being a full-time player. We think there are a lot of good guys and it’s a chance to confirm that.”

Many of the REDBLACKS’ starters saw the field in a 25-21 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last week in Ottawa. Veteran newcomer Caleb Holley led the way with three catches for 120 yards and appears to have solidified a spot in the team’s receiving corps.

While Holley will sit on Thursday, another off-season addition in Ryan Lankford, who doubles as a returner, will get the start out wide after hauling in three passes for 62 yards.

Devonte Dedmon, a CFL rookie, had a 38-yard catch and returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown.

Mossis Madu is facing competition at running back from John Crockett, who is also getting the start on Thursday.

There are certainly plenty of openings on offence for Campbell’s team, which lost key receivers Diontae Spencerand Greg Ellingson to free agency.

“You can never be comfortable,” said Dedmon. “Coach [Winston] October always said, if opportunity comes knocking, you’ve gotta let that thing in. We’re all prepared, we’ve been working hard all week. I’m just excited to see what the guys have.

“I told the guys before, I just need one opportunity and I’m going to crib it — I’ll take it back,” Dedmon said of his return touchdown. “They always say you gotta make one guy miss, and the guy missed the tackle. I said if I get out of this tackle, I’m going to run the sideline and get in the end zone, and that’s how it worked out.

“I’m just going out there and trying to enjoy myself, have fun like I’m a little kid again, like backyard football. That’s all I think about when I’m out there.”

While Campbell looks to round out his roster, the Ottawa team that takes the field Thursday may not be recognizable, at least compared to the one that will take on the Calgary Stampeders in the season opener on June 15.

AFI, Yare Media and the CFL

American Football International is collaborating with Yare Media and the Canadian Football League to present 2019 CFL games live. This is more than a livestream. This is a stream of the top flight TSN network television broadcast.

LIVE STREAM: CFL – Ottawa REDBLACKS @Montreal Alouettes, Thurs. June 6, 7:30p EDT (1:30a CEDT)

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