ST-JEAN-SUR-RICHELIEU, Que. — Marcus Brady will start at quarterback for the Montreal Alouettes in their opening pre-season game of the season against the Toronto Argonauts, but he hasn’t bumped Anthony Calvillo from the No. 1 job just yet.
New head coach Marc Trestman has opted to sit out the veteran Calvillo when the Alouettes meet the Argonauts on Thursday night at Percival Molson Stadium in order to get a look at the other four pivots on the depth chart — Brady, Brad Banks, Adrian McPherson and Ricky Santos.
“All four will play,” Trestman said Wednesday at training camp at College Militaire Royale. “Marcus will start, but how long he stays in will be at our discretion.
“It could be eight plays, it could be a half. Marcus is having a good camp. I’m very excited. I know we’re in great hands with Marcus Brady. The way he’s throwing the ball, the way he’s assimilated this offence, he’s been very, very good.”
Brady had the starting job thrust upon him late last season when Calvillo’s wife was diagnosed with cancer.
Calvillo sat out the end of the regular season and the Als’ 24-22 loss to Winnipeg in the first round of playoffs, but with his wife’s condition much improved, he returned to the team ready to resume his assault on the team record book.
Brady, who brings scrambling ability that Calvillo lacks, was impressive in most of his six starts last season, but said he has no bitterness about returning to the back-up role.
“Anthony and I have a great relationship,” said Brady. “We talk on and off the field.
“He’s a great guy to learn from. I have a lot of respect for Anthony, so that helps. I don’t dislike him or anything, or think I’m going to get on the field and prove myself like that. He’s going to be a Hall of Famer. So I’m just waiting for my turn.”
At least Brady knows that he’s going back to the reserve role knowing that he has shown the team and the city what he can do.
“The team, the players, believe in me,” he added. “I think I’ve gained some trust from the fans and I’m looking forward to getting out on the field again. But, I mean, Anthony’s had a great camp as well and he is the guy. I’ll be ready if things aren’t going great for him or if he gets hurt.”
At least two other veterans, receiver Ben Cahoon and centre Bryan Chiu, will sit out.
Trestman, an NFL coaching veteran who was hired when Jim Popp gave up the coaching job after an 8-10 season to concentrate on being general manager, has run a tough camp, but many players feel that was needed to shake the team out of the funk it was in last season.
Montreal will play host to the Grey Cup game this year, and the pressure in on for the home team to be part of it.
“Everyone’s more focused,” said Brady. “He’s pretty tough on us, but I think it’s going to be good for us.
“We’ll be mentally prepared for each game, so we’ll see how the season progresses.”
Only Scott Milanovich, who has been promoted to offensive co-ordinator, has returned from last year’s coaching staff, so their are nine coaches new to the team, including Trestman, who had no previous CFL experience.
The whole group has been scrambling to get to know the players and size up their abilities. The first pre-season game and another game next week will go a long way to deciding the roster that will play the season opener June 26 in Hamilton.
“We will have roster situations and there’s going to be movement, so we have to see people,” said Trestman. “We’ll see a lot of new faces.
“There’ll be mistakes. We’ll find out who can play in the chaos and the stress of being under the lights with 20,000-plus people in the stands. That’s part of the evaluation.”
Among the players who have left from last year are linebacker Timothy Strickland, defensive lineman Dario Romero and safety Etienne Boulay, who will attend the New York Jets camp. Newcomers include recently signed receiver/kick returner Jason Armstead.
Otherwise, it is much the same team as a year ago, with the big change being in the coaching staff.
“We’re as prepared as we can be for a first pre-season game with 10 days of practice,” added Trestman. “I just want the guys to go out there and have fun and we’ll see how they respond to the environment.”
The Alouettes got a treat on Wednesday when coaching legend Marv Levy turned up at camp. Levy coached the Alouettes to two Grey Cups in the 1970s before moving on to his Hall of Fame NFL career with Kansas City and Buffalo.
The 82-year-old, who resigned as GM of the Bills in January, was applauded by the players when he spoke to them on the field and was to address them again later in the day.