Linebacker Beverette, Montreal Alouettes off to solid start to CFL season

It's been a disruptive start to the CFL season for Tyrice Beverette.

The veteran linebacker has a team-high 17 tackles with the Montreal Alouettes (3-0). The six-foot, 203-pound Beverette also has three special-teams tackles, a sack, an interception and two forced fumbles.

"That's our standard," Beverette said. "We know the effect you can have when you disrupt the quarterback when you can take the ball and give it back to your offence.

"We preach and focus on things and it shows because each and every week, some way somehow, we come up with a turnover or we're disruptive."

Beverette, 29, was an East Division all-star last season with 89 tackles, 20 special-teams tackles, seven sacks and two defensive TDs. After registering 10 tackles in Montreal's 38-17 East Division final upset of the Toronto Argonauts, the New Jersey native added seven tackles and another on special teams in the Alouettes' stunning 28-24 Grey Cup victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Montreal's defence leads the CFL in fewest offensive points (15 per game) and offensive TDs (four), net offence (319.7 yards) and turnovers forced (10). The unit is tied with Edmonton for most sacks (eight).

Montreal has also won 11 straight games dating back to last season. Its last loss was 23-20 to Toronto on Sept. 15.

"Bev is the league's best Will (weakside) linebacker and was an all-star and Grey Cup champion last season for a reason," said Kenny Kim of Summit Athletes, Beverette's Florida-based agent. "Tyrice is a humble, soft-spoken person but between the white lines his play speaks volumes and he's always raising the bar.

"I fully expect him to again be one of the league's most dominant players this season."

Montreal visits Toronto (2-0) on Friday night. Beverette said the focus remains on winning this week's game, not the streak.

"After we got our rings, raised that banner and started this new season, we left that type of thing in the past," he said. "Don't get me wrong, there are many traits from last year that we're keeping and trying to incorporate into this year but our focus is on now."

Beverette began his CFL career with Hamilton (2019, 2021) playing in 22 regular-season games. Since signing with Montreal, he has appeared in 39 straight regular-season contests.

"Honestly, it's just the environment ... they let me go out and be myself," Beverette said. "It's also the group I play with, there's many guys in this locker room who can go out and make plays and possibly be all-stars.

"This system also fits me well, it's right up my alley being physical, getting after the ball and playing disciplined. You're not trying to do too much but do something that's going to help your team win."

The additions of defensive lineman Shawn Lemon and middle linebacker Darnell Sankey last year really solidified Montreal's defence. Following the club's Grey Cup win, GM Danny Maciocia re-signed many of his veterans -- including Sankey and Lemon -- which Beverette feels is another reason for the Als' early success.

"They (returning veterans) are guys you're used to playing with, used to sweating with," he said. "The environment, the camaraderie we have within the team, we know we have to put in the work but we have a group that's willing to work and put their egos aside.

"We understand it's a bigger goal than ourselves."

Montreal has also shown resiliency as Friday's contest will be its third on the road. That prompted Sankey to state publicly the Alouettes weren't getting proper respect from the CFL, which had them begin their Grey Cup defence in Winnipeg.

"Of course, certain things can be a little smack in the face but we use those things as motivation," Beverette said. "I try to look at the best in things and at the end of the day, no matter how hard they try to make things for us it makes us better.

"As this team has shown we're going to overcome that, somehow some way."

Not surprisingly, Beverette said Montreal mirrors the personality of head coach Jason Maas. Early during his head-coaching career in Edmonton, the ultra-competitive Maas was prone to animated explosions on the sidelines.

Maas, in his second season with Montreal, remains a very driven and passionate head coach. But to Mass's credit, he has eliminated the sideline outbursts.

"He leads by great example and anything he preaches to us he also preaches to himself," Beverette said. "It's a natural thing where guys want to follow him because of the person he is.

"Watching him hold himself accountable just makes you respect the person even more because when it's time for us to hold ourselves accountable, he provides a great example. He's someone who's not complacent or content, he's always looking for greatness ... and players feed off that."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 25, 2024.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press