Still plenty of questions surrounding Alouettes’ offensive line

The Alouettes have made a number of changes along the offensive line this winter, but that doesn’t mean all the questions surrounding the group have been answered.

General manager Kavis Reed has made it clear that the team will be moving from two Canadian tackles to two American tackles for the first time in over a decade.

Montreal acquired Brian Simmons from Hamilton for defensive back Ethan Davis, and yesterday, they landed All-Star tackle Jovan Olafioye from the B.C. Lions.

I’d expect Simmons to enter training camp as the team’s starting left tackle, while Olafioye will likely be on the right side.

But even with the tackle picture becoming clearer, there are still plenty of questions surrounding the Als’ offensive line heading into 2017.

No matter who is protecting Darian Durant this season, the Als will need to make sure they give up less sacks than the league-high 64 they allowed last season.

–What happens to Jacob Ruby? 

Ruby only suited up in one game during his rookie season in 2015, but he played in 17 games in 2016 (mostly at left tackle). He struggled in his first full year, but he’s still just a 25-year-old Canadian with size (6-foot-7, 315 pounds) and potential.

If the Als were to release him, he’d get scooped up pretty quickly, so that doesn’t seem like the smartest option. Maybe they can get something for him in a trade, but assuming they don’t go that route, what are the other options?

He’s still on his rookie deal, which makes his cap hit affordable, so if there’s no room for him to be a starter in 2017, he could either move to guard or serve as the sixth lineman.

–Can Luc Brodeur-Jourdain become a full-time starter again?

The 34-year-old was limited to 12 games in mostly a backup role last season after he tore his ACL and MCL near the end of the 2015 season.

Brodeur-Jourdain got a few snaps at centre in 2016, but he served as the team’s sixth lineman. Kristian Matte moved from guard to centre, which is a role he wasn’t as familiar with before last season.

If Brodeur-Jourdain can get healthy enough to become a start again, it would mean that Matte could go back to his regular role as a guard.

That would leave one starting job for Philip Blake or Philippe Gagnon (both Nationals).

–So, Blake or Gagnon? 

If Brodeur-Jourdain is healthy and Matte goes back to guard, which one of Blake or Gagnon would be likeliest to start at right guard?

There was a lot of hype surrounding Blake when he arrived from the NFL two seasons ago. He’s suited up in every game in 2015 and 2016, and he’s played both tackle and guard.

The fact that he’s versatile enough to play both positions is good for his chances of having a role on the team, but his high salary means that he’ll need to start to stay on the roster. Keeping a six-figure backup won’t be an option for Montreal (or any other CFL team).

The Als invested the third overall pick in last year’s draft in Gagnon, and the selection paid dividends immediately. He was able to start from day one, which is rare for a player coming out of U Sports (formerly CIS) and he played in every game.

If it comes down to Gagnon vs. Blake, I have a hard time envisioning Montreal going away from Gagnon.

–Which under-the-radar offensive lineman could grab a starting role?

The off-season still isn’t over, so the Alouettes can add another offensive lineman or two, but there are some players on the roster that could cause a surprise or two during training camp.

The 25-year-old hasn’t started many games during his career, but he’s still been dressed for 49 games over the last three seasons.

He’s entering a contract year, which means that a a string of solid performances could lead to a nice pay day on his next deal.

Joey Alfieri

Joey Alfieri

A reporter and host for TSN690 radio in Montreal, writer at Rotoworld Hockey and Pro Hockey Talk.
Joey Alfieri
Joey Alfieri
About Joey Alfieri (38 Articles)
A reporter and host for TSN690 radio in Montreal, writer at Rotoworld Hockey and Pro Hockey Talk.

12 Comments on Still plenty of questions surrounding Alouettes’ offensive line

  1. mrnehnehincognito // April 6, 2017 at 3:58 pm //

    If they can prove strong on o-line this team will contend in the East. As I always say on 3downnation the core of a good o-line is strong Canadian depth. Time will tell for the Als but I really don’t like the Olafioye trade for this team.

  2. CFLRheal // April 6, 2017 at 6:32 pm //

    The Als will solve any perceived critical gap(s) along the way & I believe that they will make the playoffs.
    I would be having a hard look at Saskatchewan this coming season. Pressure will be on both Bombers & Hamilton to go far.

  3. One of the big questions on both the Rider & Als OL’s is continuity. I think it is more likely the Als make the playoffs in the East than the Riders in the West as the rosters now stand. Riders need to beat @ least 1 West club for a wildcard shot. Who are they going to beat? The QB, RB & OL are all the worst in the West. Montreal looks to me like a club who has a good shot out east. They have a good QB, RB & receivers so if their OL is half decent, they can make some noise.

    • mrnehnehincognito // April 6, 2017 at 8:36 pm //

      Agreed E W. Without a doubt playing in the east does help MTL some. It would be nice to see a time when the East can field a more competitive division.
      Riders are up a creek without a paddle in the West. Unless Edmonton tanks they will be looking at the 2018 post Jones season before we close up our cottages for the fall.

    • Ladd Law // April 7, 2017 at 3:14 pm //

      It is easy to point to deficiencies when you wear a hater’s jersey. I doubt the Riders are anywhere near as bad as you or other hater’s think . . . it’s April… let’s see what you’re saying in November. It’s just as likely the Stumps stink up the west as the Riders at this point in time. Take out BLM and see how it goes.

      • mrnehnehincognito // April 7, 2017 at 3:41 pm //

        Take out BLM and see how it goes.??
        You do realize Stamps have faced horrible injuries last number of years and haven’t missed a beat right? Including going to a grey cup with our back up QB. Jon Cornish was injured the better part of his last 2 seasons as well
        You have an untenable argument on your hands Ladd Law. Consider you couldn’t win a game without Durant nor without Corey Sheets in middle of 2013.

        • Ladd Law // April 7, 2017 at 3:54 pm //

          True, but we beat down the Stumps when it mattered in ’13. Remember that???

          • mrnehnehincognito // April 7, 2017 at 4:09 pm //

            yep I do. Riders won fair and square.
            Good thing Sheets was back and Durant was healthy . Losing our 2 starting defensive tackles in last game of year didn’t help either but; as I say full marks to the riders that day

  4. Paul Garner // April 8, 2017 at 9:40 am //

    I agree with the Als re: going with 2 American tackles. The offensive line is everything to a team’s offence. You can have the best backs and qbs in football but if they don’t get the time to pass or the space to run they are ineffective. Whereas a great line can make an average qb or an average running back look pretty darn good.

  5. Marc Lebut // April 10, 2017 at 11:02 am //

    Nothing is set regarding the Alouettes O line besides Jovan Olafyoye will play OT. Alouettes could as well go with 4 national OL starters, which would then probably be Matte (G), Brodeur-Jourdain (C), Gagnon (G), Blake (OT). But if LBJ doesn’t earn his position back, it could be Blake (OT), Matte (C), Gagnon (G), Ruby/Piotrowski (G).

    One thing is quite sure for me: Blake will be a starter on the O line.

    If Brodeur-Jourdain earns his starting spot back, it’s hard to say who will take any of the G jobs

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