Jalil Walker has done his homework and he thinks his Argonauts can pass the test.
“On film, I would say these are the most physical receivers we’ve run across as of yet,” said Walker, a rookie defensive back who will take part in the group assignment of trying to contain the collective beast that is the Montreal Alouettes offence on Friday night.
“They’re a little larger than the average size of receivers and they are physical,” Walker said. “But we consider ourselves some of the most physical DBs in the league — so it’s a great matchup.”
The Als have had their struggles lately — particularly on the defensive side — but they certainly measure up in the literal sense.
S.J. Green comes in at 6-foot-2, 216 pounds.
Brandon London is a skyscraper on wheels at 6-foot-4 and 210-pounds.
At 6-foot-3 and 207 pounds, Montreal’s star playmaker Jamel Richardson never goes unseen — he just manages to avoid the traffic.
Eric Deslauriers fits in nicely at 6-foot-4, 206 pounds.
Big boys, those Als point-producers.
“There’s no doubt,” said Toronto head coach Scott Milanovich, as his team put the wraps on its final practice at home on Wednesday in advance of the divisional showdown.
“They’re a great receiving corps and they’re competitive and they block and do all those things.
“(We’re) going to have to change things up and get to the quarterback and get the ball out of his hands so their guys don’t have all day to run around and beat people up,” Milanovich added. “There’s going to be a lot of things we’re going to have to do to contain it.”
The quarterback, of course, is gunslinger Anthony Calvillo, who loves to go to work in the sky, all but ensuring Toronto’s secondary will have a busy night.
An Alouettes crew featuring some of the more bigger-bodied and aggressive receivers the league has to offer is sure to be a handful. But it could also provide a solid litmus test for the young defensive corps, many who are just beginning to find their bearings entering Week 5.
Chris Jones’ department has been a work in progress and is expected to stay that way for some time, making matchups like Friday’s a terrific measuring stick.
“Anytime we play against one of the premiere offences in the league we want to show that we’re a premiere defence, we can hang with ’em, go toe-to-toe with ’em,” said safety Jordan Younger, who captains the Argos’ defence.
“In a sense, we’re not treating this like the ultimate matchup for us,” the multi-time all-star added. “We’re making progress, but we’re not going to change everything overnight.”
If Milanovich had his way, he’d “just as soon play against receivers who weren’t good,” but that’s not happening so it’s about his youngsters in the backfield making the most of an opportunity.
“It’s certainly going to be a great test for our guys and I think they’re looking forward to the challenge,” the coach said.
And they are. After all, jousting with top offensive talent is what any football defender with a competitive heartbeat lives for, and there’s only one logical way of combating Montreal’s physical approach.
“Be physical back,” Younger said.
“It’s football. It’s a contact sport, a violent sport. They’re going to use their strength against us, and we’re going to use our strengths against them.”
PRE IS NOT DONE YET
Noel Prefontaine may be down, but he’s definitely not out — at least not if he has a say in the matter.
The veteran Argos kicker suffered a potentially career-ending hip injury (left labrum) in a Week 3 loss to Hamilton. He’s scheduled to have surgery next week, which he figures will be followed by a couple months on crutches and four to six months of rehab.
But Prefontaine maintains he’s not giving up on the game he loves.
“I know that I want to play again,” Toronto’s special-teams captain said following Wednesday’s practice. “I know that I can still do some stuff and kick the ball working on half a hip ... I’m looking forward to getting this fixed and one day eventually playing somewhere again.”
For now, Prefontaine, respected throughout the organization and beyond for his dedication to the game, will continue doing what he does so well: Anything he can to help the team.
The kicker held a clipboard on the field on Wednesday and helped guide special-teams drills along with co-ordinator Mike O’Shea.
“I’m extremely passionate about the Toronto Argonauts and I’m passionate about the game of football,” he said.
“Yeah, I’ve been around guys who definitely pull the chute out when they get hurt ... but there are still things that I can do from a non-playing perspective and I’m just going to try to do that.”
OWENS TALKS DANCE ETIQUETTE
If any Argonauts players had visions of going all Chad Ochocinco — er, Chad Johnson — anytime soon, Week 4 might have served as a wake-up call.
The much talked-about play came during the game on the weekend between the Tiger-Cats and Alouettes, when Hamilton’s Chris Williams returned a missed field goal the distance of the field, only to decide to run backwards about 15 yards from the Montreal’s end zone.
He was tackled at the one-yard line, although the Als eventually punched it in for the major.
“That should have been a touchdown for him and I know he was just excited,” Argos returner Chad Owens said of the controversial play.
“He just started celebrating a little too early, but you know what, that kid’s a playmaker and he’s going to continue to make plays.”
That said, the reminder is obvious: Make sure you get in there before you celebrate like you’re already in there.
“I think that it can be a lesson learned on both sides,” said Owens, who is not known for flashy celebrations.
“Montreal never gave up on the play and gave the defence a chance.”
FORMER ARGOS EXEC MOHNS DIES AT 62
The Argonauts, and the Canadian Football League, have lost a member of the family.
Greg Mohns, who served in executive positions within the Toronto organization, winning Grey Cups with the team in 1996, 1997 and 2004, has died at the age of 62.
Mohns had been battling cancer, according to the Argonauts.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this extremely difficult time,” the CFL club said in a release.
“He will forever be remembered as one of the architects behind three of the team’s Grey Cup championships in 1996, 1997 and 2004, and responsible for finding some of the most talented and decorated players to ever wear Double Blue.”
Mohns joined the Argos in 1996 as assistant general manager and director of football operations.
He left the organization from 1998-2003 before re-joining the club in 2003 as director of football operations.
Following the team’s 2004 Grey Cup title, Mohns was rewarded with a promotion to assistant general manager, a position he held until his departure in 2009.
Mohns, a California native, also worked with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the B.C. Lions.
He is survived by his son, Jason, who is currently head coach at Saguaro High School in Scottsdale, Ariz.