Calvillo committed to Als

JIM BENDER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:11 AM ET

First, Anthony Calvillo has assured that he can commit to quarterbacking the Alouettes all season.

The veteran has had to overcome some troubled times as he missed some games to be with his wife when she started to battle cancer towards the end of the 2007 campaign.

"My wife is doing very well," Calvillo reported during Montreal's state-of-the-franchise teleconference yesterday. "She is back to her routine as a wife and mother at home. And this whole situation has made our family stronger.

"The organization wanted to know if I would be ready to commit to them for the whole year and I have committed to them for the whole year. My family is ready to deal with it."

But Calvillo and his troops will have to adjust to a new head knock, Marc Trestman, who will also be adjusting to a new game on the fly. And he will be relying on Calvillo's experience.

"I feel very lucky to be going into the season with a quarterback who completed a high percentage of his passes (67.1%) with a low percentage of interceptions (1.7%)," said Trestman, who has replaced Jim Popp as head coach (Popp remains the GM).

But Trestman readily admitted that it will take some time for him to get comfortable with the nuances of the three-down Canuck game.

"I'm going to try to be as much of a student of the game as I can," said Trestman, 52. "It's a highly-complicated league and I'm really excited about the challenge."

But he has already been busying studying film of CFL games.

"No. 1, it is a very well-coached football league," said Trestman, who has bounced around the NFL mostly as either an offensive co-ordinator or a quarterbacks coach. "The defences have it all and they do it with great technique. I'm an offensive guy and, with the bigger field and more players, it's going to be a challenge."

But with Calvillo ready to go, Trestman has already addressed his team's most glaring weaknesses.

"We have to improve on our ability to rush the passer and we need to improve on our ability to protect the passer," he summed up succinctly.

Yet, the Als lost three experienced defensive lineman and did not replace them with any starters with CFL experience. And no new offensive linemen with CFL experience were added.

"We have a very good football team," claimed Popp, who is apparently still so upset over criticism of his coaching ability that he actually refuses to speak to a Montreal beat reporter. "Our team will have to adjust to a new coaching staff and how it gels together, only time will tell."

The Als have sold almost 40,000 tickets for the 2008 Grey Cup game, to be held at Olympic Stadium.

"We're aiming for the all-time record of 68,400," said club president Larry Smith.

The Als, who play their home games at the University of McGill's stadium, have sold 17,400 season tickets.

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MONTREAL ALOUETTES

KEY DEPARTURES

Head coach Jim Popp (still the GM), LB Mike Strickland (released), DE Steve Charbonneau (retired), DB Coby Rhinehart (released), LB Khalid Abdullah (released), CB Patrick Dorvelus (retired), S Etienne Boulay (NFL), DT Dario Romero (Edmonton, free agent), DT Randy Spencer (released)

KEY ARRIVALS

Head coach Marc Trestman, LB Reggie Hunt (Saskatchewan, free agent), KR Tony Tompkins (Edmonton, free agent), WR Jamel Richardson (Saskatchewan, free agent via NFL), DB Tay Cody (Hamilton, free agent), DT Jeff Keeping (Toronto, free agent)

KEY RETURNEES

QB Anthony Calvillo, QB Marcus Brady, CB Davis Sanchez, RB/KR Avon Cobourne, KR Bashir Levingston, LB Diamond Ferri, DB Randee Drew, S Mathieu Proulx, OG Scott Flory, SB Ben Cahoon, WR Kerry Watkins, LB Kai Ellis


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