Adams gets starting quarterback job in Montreal, with Harris standing by

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MONTREAL — After a pre-season rife with uncertainty, the Montreal Alouettes finally have their man to start under centre this upcoming CFL season.

Head coach Khari Jones chose Vernon Adams Jr., over Trevor Harris as his starting quarterback heading into Montreal's season opener Thursday at Calgary.

"(Adams is) our starting quarterback, he had a really outstanding training camp," Jones said. "We really liked what we saw from him, he and Trevor both. They both played really well and we feel good with (Adams) being the starter."

Montreal’s quarterback saga looked like it was over on Dec. 20 when the Alouettes released Harris. Acquired on Oct. 17 from the Edmonton Elks for defensive end Antonio Simmons, Harris filled the gaping hole left by Adams's shoulder injury sustained in Week 10 that sidelined him for the remainder of the 2021 season.

With Harris out of the equation just over two months later, Adams seemed to have regained the keys to the Alouettes’ offence. But Montreal added a plot twist on Feb. 9 when Harris re-signed as a free agent.

The Als found themselves with two potential starters with Harris and a recovered Adams.

During the team’s last pre-season game last Friday, Adams threw three interceptions in his first game since his injury. Meanwhile, Harris threw a pick on his very first snap. Neither completed a touchdown pass.

Adams said after the game that there was "good competition" between him and Harris. While Jones placed his vote of confidence on Adams for now, he said he is excited to have two quarterbacks who could be starters on any given day.

"They’re going to be great for each other and that’s what I’m really excited about," Jones said. "I saw the interaction between those two during camp and it was outstanding. They’re both competing against each other of course but they’re both working with each other and that’s what we want. We want a good team."

BYE BYE BRAY

Wide receiver Quan Bray was one of the Alouettes' most notable cuts ahead of the season opener. The former Auburn University player spent two seasons in Montreal and picked up 481 receiving yards and two touchdowns in 12 games last season.

"He's done a lot for this team, he's a great football player and a really good person and I really enjoyed coaching him," Jones said. "There’s always tough decisions to make after every camp and he was definitely one of those."

STRONG RECEIVING CORPS

Despite Bray’s dismissal, the Alouettes will count on another strong receiving corps with Jake Wieneke and Eugene Lewis both re-signing with the team. Wieneke had a league-leading 11 touchdowns last season. Lewis finished second in the league with nine touchdowns and ranked third for receiving yards with 964.

Montreal added wide receiver Hergy Mayala during the off-season. The Montreal native had an impressive rookie season for Calgary in 2019 with 562 receiving yards and five touchdowns. He will look to bounce back from a 2021 season where he failed to record a touchdown.

Tyson Philpot, the ninth overall pick in the 2022 CFL draft, made the roster and hopes to play his twin brother Jalen, drafted fifth overall by Calgary, in the season opener.

STANBACK EYEING 1000 AGAIN

The Alouettes have traditionally counted on talented running backs, and 2022 will be no exception with William Stanback. The 27-year-old is back for a fourth season in Montreal after being the East Division's candidate for most outstanding player last season. Stanback had 1,176 rushing yards in 2021 and was the only running back to eclipse 1,000 yards last season.

Stanback’s objective is to crack the 1,000-yard mark for a third consecutive season.

FIRST OVERALL

Tyrell Richards, the first-overall pick in the 2022 draft, is poised to start the season on special teams, a position he is comfortable playing as he won the Joe Szombathy Award winner as Syracuse's most outstanding special-teams player in 2019.

Richards can also be a valuable asset on the Alouettes’ defence. During Montreal’s final pre-season game, the 23-year-old from Ottawa played defensive line snaps in the second half and almost instantly recorded his first sack in Alouettes colours. Richards could also prove valuable in helping the Alouettes reach the league ratio of seven starting Canadian players.

JUST THE FACTS

HEAD COACH: Khari Jones (third season)

2021: Finished third in East Division (7-7-0). Lost division semifinal 23-12 to Hamilton

ADDITIONS: LB Tyrell Richards, WR Hergy Mayala (Calgary)

DEPARTURES: WR Quan Bray, WR B.J. Cunningham (Ottawa)

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Richards, RB William Stanback, QB Vernon Adams Jr., QB Trevor Harris, WR Jake Wieneke, WR Eugene Lewis.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 8, 2022.

Tristan D'Amours, The Canadian Press

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