Preview: Alouette’s open home game plan against Roughriders

The Alouettes will play the Saskatchewan Roughriders in their home opener on Thursday in a quest for their first win of the season. There will be some changes in the lineup that dropped the heartthrob in Toronto.

What you need to know about the game:

1 – Trevor Harris starts at quarterback:

Harris will start the 2022 regular season for the first time on Thursday night against the same team he made his Alouettes debut against last year.

The 36-year-old came on as a replacement for Vernon Adams Jr. in the second quarter at BMO Field last week. He managed to lead the Als with a touchdown drive (Dominique Davis hit with a quarterback sneak) and propelled them across the field a second time late in the fourth quarter to set up a potential go-ahead field goal.

On that last drive, he made several key throws, including one to Geno Lewis on the third and ten deep throws in Als territory.

Harris is calm and collected. He can also get rid of the ball quickly, which could be important against the Riders’ wild foursome.

Adams Jr, who attended practice on Sunday, missed the last two sessions of the week due to illness. He will not dress for this game. Dominique Davis will be Harris’ backup while Davis Alexander serves as third-string quarterback.

2 – Running Back Situation:

With William Stanback on the six-game injury list, the Alss in Calgary and Toronto turned to Jeshrun Antwi. This week it looks like the young Canadian will still get his share of the workload, but Walter Fletcher should be there too. Both running backs spent time with the first-team offense in practice this week, so expect to see them both.

Fletcher was acquired in a trade with the Edmonton Elks last week. The Als sent Edmonton a sixth-round pick in 2023 to acquire the 25-year backlog.

“[I bring]a little variety,” Fletcher said, describing his game.

“(I have) speed, I can catch the ball from backcourt. It’s something I’ve always been proud of in my career and like I said, I’m that change of pace back.

“I think I’m a patient runner. I let the offensive line go and let the holes appear. If there’s a seam or a gap, I just hit that gap. I have a certain explosiveness and I play big yard plays just to keep the chains moving.

During his rookie season in 2021, Fletcher finished with 302 yards rushing and 177 yards receiving in 11 games with the Elks.

3 – Two more changes in offense

In addition to starting Harris and adding Walter Fletcher to the lineup, there are a few other changes being made on offense.

The first change takes place on the offensive. Left tackle Chris Schleuger will come out for Nick Callender, who also played for the Alss last season.

“We got a taste of Callender and we want to give him a chance out there,” head coach Khari Jones said after Tuesday’s practice session.

Jake Wieneke, who was restricted from training on Sunday with a hamstring injury, appears to be out of the line-up for Dante Absher.

Wieneke has been struggling with the injury since the training camp but it seems like he’s almost recovered after his performance in training.

“Jake looked like Jake this week,” Harris said. “When you come back from a hamstring injury and he was pushing to come back early. He hadn’t really had a single practice until week 1 and we had a short week. Trusting that hamstring is a little different when you’re a receiver trying to break away from it and explode from it. It would take him a few weeks to get in shape and get in shape and trust that hamstring. They always say if you feel 100 percent on a hamstring after a tear or pull, it’s going to take another week. At this point it is now where it is actually in full swing.

Absher has been with the Alsen since 2019. In five games last season, he finished for 90 yards on 10 receptions, including 46- and 42-yard performances against BC and Ottawa. The 28-year-old has been productive every time he’s been called up in the starting XI.

4 – Canadian star Chris Ackie will miss the game:

Den Als will be without one of their best Canadian players for this clash against the Riders as Ackie was absent from practice this week.

The 30-year-old injured his ankle late Thursday in the game against the Argonauts.

His place will be taken by fellow Canadian Brian Harelimana, who is in his second year with the Alouettes.

The 26-year-old was drafted in the fourth round of the 2020 CFL Draft. He has played in eight games as a rookie, making two defensive tackles and three special teams during that stretch.

Harelima saw quite a bit of action on defense against the Argos after middle linebacker Tre Watson was ejected in the second quarter.

The cerebral defender can play or play in the middle, but he’s also comfortable at Weakside Linebacker, where he will compete on Thursday.

5 – The Roughriders

The Roughriders start the season 2-0 after defeating the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the Edmonton Elks.

It all starts on offense with quarterback Cody Fajardo. The 30-year-old has rushed for 558 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in two games in 2022.

Running back Jamal Morrow was selected as one of the three performers of the week in the CFL for his performance against the Elks on Saturday night. The 27-year-old rushed for 126 yards on 17 carries and added another 28 yards on four receptions.

The Rider Defense has also been greatly strengthened. They only dropped 13 and 16 points through two competitions.

Your defensive front has stood out for all the right reasons so far. Defensive tackle Garrett Marino is tricky inside and defensive end AC Leonard brings the pressure off the edge.

“They’re just good,” said head coach Khari Jones of the Riders’ defense. “They do a lot of things with their linebackers, with their defensive line. They take the boys off the ball. We have a pretty old offensive line, so I’m confident. But sometimes you have to snatch the ball out of your hands because they do a lot of different things up there.”

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