Tyrell Richards and William Stanback missed most of last campaign due to injuries. The two Alouettes are eager for the Montreal team to begin its next season in order to put an end to 2022.
“It’s clear that I want to get back to my game of two years ago, but above all I want to be healthy,” said running back Stanback after practice on Tuesday at the Diablos stadium in Cégep. of Trois-Rivieres. I want the league to know I’m back. »
“I hope to stay healthy: I definitely have things to prove. We always have it when we step on the pitch, but I want to prove that I am the best player. Not just the best in my position, but the best point player, said Richards, a linebacker also used in special teams. When you play at this level, you have to have these kind of high standards. »
Joyful words for the Alouettes general manager Danny Maciocia, but which do not surprise him.
“Right now, he is performing very well. We are very satisfied, said Maciocia. Richards has the potential to be the best linebacker in the CHL. Not the best Canadian linebacker, but the best linebacker, period. We saw it a little bit in the last game against Ottawa, the way he played, the turnover he created. We also see that on the special teams, the opposing team is practically incapable of stopping him. If he can stay healthy, he will force us to find him a place on the defensive end. »
The Alouettes had traded with the Edmonton Elks to climb to first place in the 2022 draft in order to get their hands on Richards. Elbow and knee injuries, however, limited the Brampton, Ont., footballer to just seven games in 2022. He nevertheless took the opportunity to make five tackles, and four more on special teams.
“It was different, hard work,” Richards said of his rehabilitation. It made me enjoy playing football more. It brought me back down to earth and made me want to be a better player. »
He has also changed his training methods in order to more easily withstand the higher workload of professional football.
“I’m still heavy lifting, but I’ve added a lot of plyometrics and running. I also do a lot of impact drills, for my knees and elbows, but also to learn how to land the right way and be ready to react.
“None of my injuries are bothering me right now. Yes, I wore an elbow brace in the last game, but unless it prevents me from playing, I don’t think about it, ”he continued.
Lighter and more agile
Stanback was injured in his team’s very first game. Granted, he returned to action with four games to go and he was able to make the playoffs, but he was obviously not up to speed for those encounters, as he only carried the ball 34 times. for 153 yards.
Although his weight had nothing to do with it, Stanback showed up to camp lighter, at 233 pounds, and the six-foot footballer believes he will reap several benefits.
“It happened while I was training. I didn’t necessarily put effort into it, but I wanted to arrive lighter, he admitted. I wanted to be more agile on my feet, especially after the injury I suffered last year. »
Stanback is eager to do battle with opposing defenses. In the meantime, he had to measure his efforts in Trois-Rivières.
“I had to restrain myself! But the coaches have my health at heart and made sure I was doing enough to be ready for the first game without affecting my health. I push the machine, but just enough not to overdo it. »
Head coach Jason Maas had left out Stanback, quarterback Cody Fajardo and several veterans for the first preseason game last Friday in Ottawa. These players will be in uniform Friday, in Montreal, to face the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
“It’s hard not to be on the sidelines cheering on other quarterbacks, congratulating the offense after a successful push or the defense after a big play,” Fajardo said. But the rest has been beneficial: I’ve never felt better at this stage of a training camp. My legs are great and my arm has never felt so strong. »
Completely recovered from his knee injury that bothered him last year, he attributes his great physical shape to his wife, who is a physiotherapist.
“It’s my secret weapon!” She made me do lots of exercises that I didn’t do before, especially in terms of balance. I won’t give away all my secrets, but I’m in great shape and as you can see I don’t have to wear a brace anymore,” Fajardo said.
“Jason has done a great job with the schedule for this camp,” he added. We worked three days, then we had a day off, followed by another three days of camp and a preseason game. We wanted to show him we deserved the day off by getting high on the previous three days. »