WINNIPEG — Vernon Adams Jr., knowing he was facing some torrid weather this week, said he’d played in poor conditions before at Eastern Washington. Then on Friday afternoon he arrived in Winnipeg, hours behind schedule, and took a look outside, where it has been snowing for the better part of two days.
The Alouettes’ starting quarterback quickly remembered he has a game to play Saturday, when Montreal meets the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Investors Group Field (4 p.m., TSN, RDS, CJAD Radio-800).
“I didn’t know there was going to be this much snow,” Adams said, almost in bewilderment. “But, like I said before, they have to play in it and we have to play in it. We just have to make more plays. Hopefully, we can do that.”
While both teams must play in it, the Bombers practiced in it Thursday and Friday, while the Als were experiencing mild conditions in Montreal. And while Winnipeg was an absolute mess most of the day, the snow’s expected to stop by Saturday morning. A temperature of 2 Celsius is forecast by the opening kickoff, and the wind, which always seems prevalent on the Prairies, should abate somewhat.
“We’ll see what the weather’s like at the time of the game and see if we need to change anything,” said Montreal head coach Khari Jones, who spent a good portion of his 11-year Canadian Football League career as the Bombers’ quarterback. “I played in weather similar to this, if not worse. The wind’s the big thing out here. If you have a lot of wind, it changes things a lot. With snow or cold, you can pretty much do the same things you normally do.
“We’ve talked about it all week,” he added. “The guys just have to be able to adjust and be ready for this. Hopefully, we play deep into November and we’re going to see weather similar to this.”
These teams met in Montreal on Sept. 21. The Als overcame a 24-point deficit for an electrifying 38-37 victory, scoring 21 unanswered fourth-quarter points. It was the largest comeback in franchise history.
Late in that game, after throwing an interception, Adams became involved with Winnipeg linebacker Adam Bighill. Adams ripped off Bighill’s helmet, hit him in the chin with it and was suspended one game by the league. On Friday, Bighill said that’s ancient history.
“I’ll be aggressive, like I normally am. That’s the way football should always be played,” he said. “I don’t hold any extra grudge … no extra animosity toward Vernon at all.
“I don’t want to hold a grudge. I’ve never been that guy. I believe in forgiving people and giving people second chances. He apologized,” Bighill added.
The Alouettes have been forced to make some significant roster changes because of injuries. Offensive-tackle Tony Washington will be replaced by Kennedy Estelle, making his Montreal debut. Tailback William Stanback, who practised two days earlier this week, has tightness in his lower body. That means Jeremiah Johnson should receive a full workload. He’ll be backed up by Jarveon Williams, playing his first game.
And Najee Murray replaces Ryan Carter at field cornerback. Murray opened last season on the Als roster and played six games before tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Murray signed with the Cleveland Browns in 2017 after attending rookie mini-camp.
“My speed’s great. I actually feel like I have a new leg and actually am faster,” he claimed.
Meanwhile, receiver Chris Matthews, who scored two touchdowns against Winnipeg, his former team, is a ratio victim for the second consecutive game.
“I want him on the field. Hopefully, we can find ways to make that happen in the future,” Jones said. “He’s done absolutely nothing to alienate or hurt himself. It’s just a number’s game.”