Rakeem Cato looks to have forged an uneasy truce with Duron Carter and Kenny Stafford.
The Montreal Alouettes quarterback sat well apart from the receivers during breaks in drills on Wednesday, and did not say a word when he passed them on the sidelines, but there was no repeat of his angry outbursts from a day earlier that left the impression that dissension was tearing the 3-8 CFL team apart.
Given a day to cool off, Cato said, a little grudgingly, that “those guys are OK humans” when asked about Carter and Stafford. “It’s bigger than me or them.
“It’s about the Alouettes, and until we all get on the same page on that, you’re going to see things a little different, from a quarterback and receivers standpoint.”
The 24-year-old Cato feels he hasn’t been shown any respect from Stafford and Carter since he was handed the starting job last week in place of struggling veteran Kevin Glenn, who was traded on Sunday to Winnipeg.
He had a blowup with Carter in practice last week ahead of the Alouettes’ 38-27 loss in Vancouver and then, on Tuesday, had a meltdown, shouting at both receivers until he was walked off the field by special teams co-ordinator and peace-keeper Kavis Reed.
Cato now wishes he had kept his temper in check.
“It was something I needed to voice out,” said Cato. “But I know, moving forward, I can handle that a way lot better.
“Pull him to the side. Wait till we get back to the locker-room. It’s easier to do it that way.”
Neither side said what exactly sparked the outburst, but it appears to be something personal between them. Cato said he won’t let it affect his play.
“We don’t have to like each other but we have to respect each other,” he said. “If those guys want me to throw them 100 balls after practice, I will.
“I’m not going to duck my reads. I’m not going to do anything outrageous or crazy and not give those guys the ball. But off the field, I’m going home. That’s just how it is.”
One issue appears to be a perception of selfishness from some players. During the incident, Cato was heard to say “that’s why we’re 3-8 and why we’re going to be 3-9.”
“You listen good,” he said when asked about that comment.
Then, without naming Carter but perhaps referring to the gifted son of former NFL star Cris Carter, he added: “It’s a respect factor _ no one is bigger than the program. I’ve been on high school and state championship teams and, during that process, not one man was bigger than the program. If you have guys bigger than the program you’re going to see results like we have now. You can win a couple of games on talent, but you’re not going to be a championship team. That was my point.”
Asked if there were too much “I” and not enough “we” on the Alouettes, Cato said “Yes. Not too many. Just a few.”
Carter, the Alouettes top receiver, was surprised at Cato’s outburst but believes the young quarterback will get over it.
“It’s not a respect thing,” he said. “I always gained my respect through play.
“He was put in a bad position to begin with, with Kevin being traded and everything, so he’s probably got a chip on his shoulder. It might be a bit misguided but that’s what we’re here for as a team.”
Coach and general manager Jim Popp just wants his players to cool off and concentrate of their game Friday night in Hamilton. He said Cato had a solid start against B.C. and has looked better in practice this week, except for his blow up.
“It’s between individuals but it’s become a team issue and we’ve got to get that taken care of,” said Popp. “It’s been discussed.
“I believe it’s taken care of and settled.”
The Alouettes added a fifth quarterback, Shane Carden from East Carolina, to their roster. He father Jay Carden is a former Montreal Expos baseball prospect.