The Montreal Alouettes’ quarterback room is suddenly very crowded, but it’s the more the merrier according to head coach Khari Jones.
With starter Vernon Adams Jr. set to return from the left shoulder injury that ended his 2021 season, the Larks added former Redblacks starter Dominique Davis to replace departing backup Matthew Shiltz, then surprised everyone by re-acquiring their playoff rental Trevor Harris.
That makes three players with starting experience on one depth chart, with youngsters Shea Patterson, Quinten Dormady and Davis Alexander also in the mix.
“We just have a bunch of solid individuals playing quarterback and as we went through last year, we had three quarterbacks that were able to win football games for us, which is a great thing,” Jones said in an appearance on TSN 690 in Montreal. “You need that position to be ready.”
Last year it was Adams Jr., Shiltz and Harris who were all needed to get the Als to the playoffs, falling to the Ticats in the East Semi-Final. Having a three-deep depth chart was a point of emphasis this offseason, with each signing exciting Jones in a different way.
“We feel very good with Vernon, he’s coming off of an injury and doing a great job with his rehab. The Dominique Davis signing was big and I’m looking forward to working with him, having played against him for a long time. And then to be able to get Trevor back is just fantastic for us because he’s a guy who came into a tough situation last year and within a short period of time really helped the football club,” he said.
“Talking to the guys, they’re ready to work, they’re ready to work together and they’re ready to compete. I’m looking forward to working with all of them and having a healthy Vernon back is the big key for us.”
The moves haven’t been without controversy however. Harris has made clear that he still believes he is a starting quarterback and his unexpected re-signing after the Alouettes had released him to test free agency caused the incumbent Adams Jr. to delete his social media, after indicating publicly that he felt slighted.
According to Jones, Adams Jr. needn’t worry because there will not be an open competition in Montreal.
“Vernon is the guy, there’s no issues or controversies or anything like that,” he stressed. “The guys, of course, are always competing, we’re always working to be as good as we can, but we have the utmost confidence in Vernon and what he can do.”
After breaking out as a starter in 2019, the 29-year-old was one of many who struggled to return to form after the COVID imposed break. Adams Jr. played in just eight games, completing 142-of-239 passes (59.4 percent) for 1949 yards with 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions, adding 298 more yards along the ground.
It has not caused the Alouettes to lose any faith in the mobile pivot and Jones believes the addition of the CFL’s all-time leading passer, Anthony Calvillo, as the team’s new quarterbacks coach will be critical to returning Adams Jr. to form.
“Often quarterbacks have to go through these struggles to come out on the other end and I just see him being able to do that. I think bringing in Anthony Calvillo, he speaks for himself,” Jones stressed.
“The things that we’re talking about now and going through in our meetings and everything, we’re really on the same page and he’s gonna have somebody there that’s with him all the time and able to help him through some of those things. I think he’s in a great position to be himself and to be the best version of himself and that’s what we want.”
If not, both Harris and Davis will be waiting in the wings, whether or not Jones will admit that’s what they are there to do.