MONTREAL – Vernon Adams Jr. is arguably one of the hottest players in the CFL, and he’ll look to continue his fine form when the Montreal Alouettes take on the BC Lions on Friday night at Percival Molson Stadium in Montreal.
There is history between Adams Jr. and the Lions. “Big Play V.A.” was on the Lions’ negotiation list prior to arriving in the CFL. His rights were traded to the Alouettes in 2016, who then signed him to his first professional contract.
Since taking over as the starting quarterback very early in the 2019 season, Adams has helped guide Montreal into playoff contention for the first time in a number of years. He owns a 5-2 record and passed for more than 400 yards in a Week 10 overtime win over the Calgary Stampeders.
“I knew we had a chance to be something special, to be a special team this year,” Als head coach Khari Jones told MontrealAlouettes.com. “But I wanted the guys to see it as well. So I made it my focus. We have all the elements of a good team, now all we have to do is let them out. My biggest goal was to make them see what I saw, and I feel like they do now.”
The Alouettes are looking to snap a lengthy stretch of futility against the Lions. BC has won each of the last seven meetings between the clubs, and Montreal has led by more than a single point just once during those seven contests.
Another player facing his former team Friday night is Lions running back Brandon Rutley. Rutley spent four of his seven CFL seasons in Montreal, primarily as a backup to Tyrell Sutton. The 30-year-old has been used as a return specialist in BC this season, but is slated to start at tailback in Week 13.
Rutley gets the start with John White being added to the one-game injured list. White is a bright spot for the Lions this season, scoring six total touchdowns. He is also flirting with his first career 1,000-yard rushing season, but he won’t be able to keep pace if he misses significant time.
Friday is going to be Kelly Bates’ first game as the Lions’ offensive line coach. The O-line is facing some scrutiny, as Mike Reilly has been sacked a league-high 43 times, resulting in the dismissal of former coach Bryan Chiu.
“It’s the business aspect of it. We weren’t taking care of business and that comes with the territory,” tackle Joel Figueroa told BCLions.com. “Kelly has been around for a while. He’s played in this league – that’s a good thing and he’s a very smart guy, very detailed. We’re looking forward to playing for him.”
There haven’t been nearly as many issues with the Montreal line. William Stanback was the league’s most electrifying runner before going down with an injury, and veteran Jeremiah Johnson has also found success.
The Lions are still mathematically able to make the playoffs, although it is a long shot. Every game can now be labelled a “must win,” and the Leos are confident they can take on all comers.
“Unfortunately, the record is what it is,” receiver Bryan Burnham said. “You’re only as good as your record, but I know what this team is about and I know that we’re a good football team. We’ve been in games, just haven’t been able to finish. For right now, we’re looking at it as a new season. We’re 0-0 right now. We’re going to try to do the best we can and make the best of what we’ve got. I’m almost thinking about the first half as last season. Let’s get rolling.”
Montreal’s solid play over the last few weeks can correlate to the return of receiver DeVier Posey. The off-season acquisition caught 14 passes for 257 yards in his two games since getting back to game action – both of which were Als victories.
“I felt going into the season, we had things lined up,” Posey said. “The injury kind of threw us off, but it’s just back to our regular scheduled programming. We’re right where I envisioned this team being – in the race for a home [playoff game]. We’re in the hunt and couldn’t ask for a more perfect scenario.”
Both teams had a bye last week, but neither has won a game this season when coming off a week’s rest. One team will change that on Friday night.
BY THE NUMBERS
0 – Career appearances for Vernon Adams against the BC Lions.
100 – Friday will be Shawn Lemon’s 100th career CFL game.
4th – Montreal’s Patrick Levels is fourth in the league with 66 total defensive plays.
16 – Passes from Mike Reilly hauled in by Canadians last game. That accounts for the majority of the 21 completions from BC in Week 11.
– With files from MontrealAlouettes.com and BCLions.com.
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.