Alouettes return to work following bye week

Slightly more than a week ago, Marc-Olivier Brouillette said he felt old at age 28. But now, following a bye week in the schedule, the Alouettes’ safety said he feels young and rejuvenated again.

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With the addition of a ninth team, the expansion Ottawa Redblacks, to the Canadian Football League, all clubs now get two bye weeks during the regular-season, the Als on Monday coming off theirs. So there’s nothing unusual about that. But Montreal is in the midst of an atypical stretch, with 17 days between games. The Als defeated the Redblacks on Sept. 26, and don’t play again until next Monday, Oct. 13, against Saskatchewan, at Molson Stadium.

“It’s bizarre,” head coach Tom Higgins acknowledged on Tuesday, having abbreviated a practice at Stade Hébert following 60 minutes — and only moments before a thunderstorm accompanied by hail and lightning besieged the area.

The Als might have only a 5-8 record, but the team’s finally on a bit of a roll, having won two consecutive games and four of its last five. Maintaining that momentum could prove challenging, with such a long stretch between games. In many ways, Tuesday’s workout resembled the first day of training camp, with frequent offensive plays ending in interceptions.

If the break came at an opportune time, the Als must ensure they eradicate whatever rust and staleness set in during their time away. They must attempt to pick up the story where it left off. That could prove challenging, since pro athletes are creatures of habit and get into routines — such as playing once every week. Seventeen days between games is virtually unheard of.

“As professionals, you have to do whatever it takes to stay ready,” said linebacker Kyries Hebert, who missed the last game and still is recovering from a pulled hamstring. “While we had the break, guys had to go on their own and do workouts, stay conditioned and stay involved with football.

“Staying in the mode,” he added. “This is football season, not the off-season.”

While the Als’ media schedule suggested the team returned on Monday for meetings, it’s known the players were on the field for a closed practice. On Wednesday, the team starts preparing for the Roughriders with meetings and film review, but no workout. The Als will then conduct three full days of practice, beginning Thursday.

“I don’t play with numbers and don’t want to play with numbers,” Montreal Alouettes head coach Tom Higgins says. He’s seen here watching his team warm up prior to a game against the Ottawa Red Blacks in Montreal Friday, Aug, 29, 2014.

“You have to come back to practice ready to go, mentally and physically,” quarterback Jonathan Crompton said. “That’s the thing about professionals, we have to make sure we do (prepare). It’s on us. I think our guys are mature enough. We have a veteran team to know that.

“We think we control our own destiny.”

During their period of inactivity, the Als actually lost ground in the playoff race — both Hamilton and Toronto winning last weekend. The Tiger-Cats are first in the East Division, at 6-7, while the Argonauts, like Montreal, are 5-8. But Toronto controls the tiebreaker, having defeated the Als once.


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