Ottawa Redblacks at Montreal Alouettes: eight players to watch in the preseason clash

Photo courtesy: Montreal Alouettes

With four games on the preseason schedule Friday, players on the bubble have one last shot to crack their team’s roster.

Dozens of future CFL stars will be battling for their jobs today but with so many new prospects on every roster, it can be difficult for fans to know who they should have their eyes on.

As always, 3DownNation has done the work for you. We’ve published a list of players to watch ahead of every preseason game in 2022, giving fans — whether in-stadium or watching on TV — an easy cheat sheet to enhance their viewing experience.

The action kicks off at 7:00 p.m. EST when the Ottawa Redblacks take on the Montreal Alouettes at Percival Molson Stadium. If you are tuning in, here are some players to look out for.

Ottawa Redblacks

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

Alonzo Addae, DB, West Virginia

Signed a few days into training camp after being drafted in the second round of the 2021 CFL Draft, you have to imagine Addae will get a real shot at Ottawa’s wide-open starting safety job. Regarded by some as the best free safety prospect in recent memory, the Pickering native showed tremendous range and instincts in the Big 12. His CFL debut should be highly interesting for R-Nation, as Addae is the team’s heir apparent to Antoine Pruneau, whether he assumes the role now or later.

Terrance Smith, LB, Florida State

The cousin of All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins, Smith had his own five-year stint in the NFL that saw him make 38 tackles in 34 games. The 29-year-old is likely staring down his last shot at pro football but has the athleticism and pedigree to push for playtime in the middle of Ottawa’s defence. Smith led the team with four defensive tackles and one more on special teams in his preseason debut last week, can he do something similar in the encore?

Tyrie Adams, QB, Western Carolina

It is difficult to imagine Caleb Evans losing his spot behind Jeremiah Masoli on the QB depth chart, but the man they call “Houdini” has pulled an intriguing third option out of his hat. Adams’ slight frame — six-foot-one and barely 180 pounds — meant no one outside of arena football would touch him after a record-setting career with the Catamounts, but he made a big first CFL impression by leading Ottawa’s game-winning drive in the preseason opener. Game number two will be a chance to prove it was more than just beginner’s luck.

Zack Pelehos, OL, Ottawa

The Redblacks’ surprise second overall selection in the 2022 CFL Draft got plenty of action last week, but how he performs in game number two will be a window into Ottawa’s plans up front. Pelehos has a sky-high ceiling, but does the team feel comfortable with the rookie’s pro-readiness to make him their sixth offensive lineman from the start? We’ll find out by good he looks with the starting unit on Friday.

Montreal Alouettes

Photo courtesy: Dominick Gravel/Alouettes de Montreal

Quan Bray, REC, Auburn

CFL fans are already well aware of what Quan Bray can do but after missing last week’s preseason game, there may be something extra riding on this contest for the speedster. After breaking out with 818 yards and six touchdowns in 2019, Bray had just 481 and two scores last year. The Als now seem set to start only three American pass catchers and Reggie White has leapt over him for the final slot, with Dante Absher and preseason darling Krishawn Hogan stating their cases for backup roles. With Chandler Worthy now in the mix as well, the 29-year-old Bray might be a veteran player suddenly on the bubble.

Tre Watson, LB, Maryland

Montreal’s starting middle linebacker last season, Ahmad Thomas, hasn’t shown up to training camp and is currently on the club’s suspended list. That leaves a big hole in the centre of the defence that will presumably be filled by second-year man Tre Watson, a former All-American candidate from his days with the Terrapins. Watson had seven defensive tackles in eight games last year and seven more on special teams, but a strong end to the preseason is needed to put the minds of Alouettes fans at ease.

Andrew Ankrah, DE, James Madison

Ankrah couldn’t stick around for the full year on the practice squad of a disastrous Edmonton Elks team, but he has more to give at the CFL level. A two-time All-American pass rusher in the FCS and a Buck Buchanan Award finalist, his power and bend resulted in 26 career sacks in college. He has yet to make one at the CFL level, but tied for the team lead with three defensive tackles last week and made a special teams tackle in his lone regular-season appearance last year — ironically against Montreal.

Jordan Scarlett, RB, Florida

Nobody will be unseating William Stanback in the near future, but it is hard not to be intrigued by a former fifth-round NFL draft pick with 4.4-speed and weight lifter strength. Scarlett has every physical tool to be an elite running back but has been hamstrung by injuries and off-the-field controversies. His preseason debut was not particularly impressive, but he could dazzle with a few more carries.

J.C. Abbott is a University of British Columbia graduate and youth football coach. He covers the CFL, the CFL Draft and the three-down league's Global initiative.