LIVESTREAM (Free): CFL – Montreal Alouettes @Edmonton Eskimos, Friday, June 14, 7p (9p EDT, 3a CEDT June 15)

EDMONTON – The Montréal Alouettes and Edmonton Eskimos have made major changes since they stepped off the field last season, and in the case of the Als, since they stepped off the field last week. They will kickoff their 2019 seasons when they meet at the Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium Friday evening.

The Alouettes sent shockwaves through the CFL when they parted ways with Head Coach Mike Sherman a week before their season-opening tilt with the Esks. Offensive Coordinator Khari Jones has been promoted to head coach, and immediately named Antonio Pipkin as the team’s starting quarterback.

Pipkin, 23, had the reins of the Alouettes offence toward the end of 2018 and threw his first touchdown pass against the Eskimos in a Week 10 loss. The dual-threat quarterback does have the experienced Vernon Adams Jr.behind him, but the offence is his heading into Week 1.

Jones is no stranger to the league, having spent a decade plying his trade as a quarterback between 1997 and 2007. He has served on the coaching staffs of four separate franchises since 2009, including as the Als offensive coordinator last season. However, this will be his first game as a head coach at the professional level and it will be interesting to see how the team responds to its new skipper.

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While the Alouettes turned heads in the pre-season, the Eskimos made arguably the biggest splash in free agency, acquiring a plethora of talent that has many predicting their disappointing 2018 campaign will soon be forgotten.

“We just went out to get great people to replace great people,” Eskimos head coach Jason Maas told Esks.com. “At the end of the day, the guys who remained in this locker room understood that last year wasn’t good enough, no matter who was here, and we needed to change some things. We needed to look top to bottom and figure out some things that could make this year better.”

Quarterback Trevor Harris arrives in Edmonton to fill the void left by Mike Reilly. Fresh off helping the Ottawa REDBLACKS to the Grey Cup, Harris is no stranger to playing the Alouettes and has a familiar face among his receivers.

Harris and wideout Greg Ellingson have undeniable chemistry – the latter is coming off four straight 1,000 yard seasons – but has that chemistry traveled west to Edmonton?

The Alouettes made significant additions to their secondary this off-season, bringing in long time NFL cornerback Marcus Cromartie, former Calgary Stampeder Ciante Evans and three-time CFL All-Star Taylor Loffler. With shutdown corner Tommie Campbell returning, Montreal’s defensive backfield is not to be taken lightly.

“He’s very precise,” said Evans of Harris to MontrealAlouettes.com. “He’s able to put the ball straight in the hands of his playmakers. We’ll definitely have to hit him early in the game to show him that this Montréal defence is going to be there on every snap.”

The Edmonton defence will also have a different look come Friday, as veteran linebacker J.C. Sheritt retired following the 2018 season. Esks fans have reason to be excited about who the team has brought in to replace Sheritt, though.

Larry Dean and Don Unamba were signed away from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, where Dean was tied for third in the league in tackles last season. Unamba will certainly be playing with a chip on his shoulder as well – he was released by the Alouettes after only three games in 2017.

Dean, Unamba and rookie Vontae Diggs will be tasked with containing the Als breakout star from 2018, William Stanback. Montréal earned the fewest first downs on the ground under Sherman in 2018, but they also averaged the fewest rushing attempts per game (17.7). Stanback’s usage in Week 1 and throughout the season could be increased with Jones at the helm.

Another free agent signing, WILL linebacker Jovan Santos-Knox, won’t play in Week 1 after being added to the one-game injured list along with defensive end Alex Bazzie. Sophomore and 2018 draft pick Godfrey Onyeka will get the starting assignment at field corner over Arjen Colquhoun.

On offence, Harris will be missing one of his projected top targets this season, as DaVaris Daniels couldn’t practise this week and will start the season on the injured list. Former first round draft pick Tevaun Smith, who signed with the Eskimos in the off-season after three years in the NFL, will start at receiver along with new addition Ricky Collins.

Another intriguing Eskimo linebacker is Maxime Royer, who is suiting up for his first regular season game. The former McGill stalwart was born in Troyes, France, and was selected by the Esks in the European Draft.

For the Alouettes, 6-foot-6, 192-pound receiver Malcolm Carter will make the first start of his career after winning the job over Felix Faubert-Lussier. Carter was a sixth-round pick in the 2017 CFL Draft.

Free agent signings Patrick Levels and Bo Lokombo will also make their Alouette debuts on Friday, but veteran running back Jeremiah Johnson will have to wait, as the veteran running back starts the season on the injured list.

The franchises will showcase their new players, and also their new look. The Eskimos and Alouettes will don their New Era uniforms for the first time in the regular season Friday night.

By The Numbers:

7-2 – Trevor Harris’s record as a starter against the Montreal Alouettes. It speaks for itself.

0 – Number of rushing touchdowns scored by William Stanback in 2018. That number could grow in a hurry.

10 – Edmonton has won the last ten meetings against the Als.

5 – The number of quarterbacks used by the Alouettes in 2018, one shy of the CFL record of six set by Winnipeg in 1983.

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 – Montreal Alouettes @Edmonton Eskimos, Friday, June 14, 7p (9p EDT, 3a CEDT June 15)

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