Als on a manhunt — for Owens

Toronto Argonauts' Chad Owens is swarmed by the Alouettes.  (Jack Boland/QMI AGENCY)

Toronto Argonauts' Chad Owens is swarmed by the Alouettes. (Jack Boland/QMI AGENCY)

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:06 PM ET

MONTREAL — The Montreal Alouettes know what it’s like to play the role of Wile E. Coyote, endlessly trying to track down that pesky, elusive Roadrunner.

Or a frustrated Rocky Balboa, who, in the movie that bore his name, was forced to chase a speedy chicken around a coop with very little success, at least in the early stages of the pursuit anyway.

The only difference?

Come Sunday afternoon, in front of a packed house of 50,000-plus at the Big O, the Als main target won’t be a cartoon bird or a feisty feathered hen.

No, the object of Montreal’s all-out hunt will be an all-to-familiar foe, a diminutive 5-foot-7 scatterbug named Chad Owens.

If the Als game plan for the 2010 Eastern Conference final was turned into a movie, it would be titled “Get Chad!” That’s how much of a threat the Argos kick returner/wide receiver poses to the Als, who are just two wins away from another their Grey Cup title.

“He’s so shifty, if you were in a phone booth with Chad for five, 10 minutes, you wouldn’t touch him,” Als defensive lineman Anwar Stewart said after practice Friday. “That’s how elusive he is. If he gets just a little bit of a crease, he’ll hit it. He’s a very talented returner, very fast, and a good receiver too.”

So, how to stop him, Stewart was asked?

Maybe the Als could tell him the game is at Percival Molson Stadium, where the team plays its regular-season games.

Wouldn’t work. He’d see there were no people in the stands and quickly bust a move to the Big O.

Maybe they could take him out on to Crescent St. on Saturday for a splendid night of bright lights and boozy frolicking that would run well into Sunday morning, leaving the league’s top kick returner in a fog come kickoff.

No such luck. There is a little matter of a team curfew that would provide a huge obstacle to that plan.

As a result, the Als will have to resort to more conventional means.

“If you have a chance to corral him, you had better do it,” Stewart said. “We do have a gameplan for him, but it all starts with that.”

Ah, the coveted game plan. The Als are being quite secretive about what they have up their red white and blue sleeves other than to offer up the usual “we have to stay in our lanes and tackle well.”

Even coach Marc Trestman was being particularly secretive. When asked if his team would boot the ball out of bounds in order to keep it out of Owens hands, Trestman refused to confirm whether that option was in the team’s thinking.

Should the Als resort to such tactics, the Argos would have the option of taking the ball at their own 45-yard line. Perhaps, in the minds of the Montreal coaching staff, that would be the lesser of two evils, avoiding the danger of plopping the pigskin into Owens’ paws.

Keep this in mind, too: if anyone know how dangerous Owens can be, it’s the Alouettes.

Back in June, it was the Als who shipped Owens to Toronto for a fourth-round pick after the speedster refused to take a pay cut. In an interesting twist, his photo still appears on Page 115 of the Als 2010 media guide.

When asked about their former teammate Friday, a handful of Als predicted Owens was a shoe-in to win the award as the CFL’s top special team player. Owens led the league in combined returned yards with 2,701, with 665 of those and three touchdowns coming against Montreal.


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