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ALOUETTES' DEFENCE IN DISARRAY
Wednesday, October 26, 2005 - 10:00AM
Injuries plague unit coming off big loss to Argonauts
By Herb Zurkowsky,
Things appear to be going from bad to worse for the Alouettes defensively, only days after allowing 49 points in a loss to Toronto in their biggest game of the season.
Weak-side veteran linebacker Duane Butler, who attempted to play in the second half against the Argonauts after fracturing his thumb, underwent surgery yesterday and is expected to miss Montreal's final two regular-season games. With the Als already missing linebacker Timothy Strickland with a groin injury, they'll potentially line up against Ottawa this Saturday with a trio of rookie Jeremiah Garrison in the middle flanked by Canadians Patrick Dorvelus and Michael Botterill.
Newcomer Ricky Bell, who replaced Strickland against the Argonauts but struggled, didn't practise yesterday and is questionable with a groin injury.
The Als also will make changes to their defensive line.
End Mark Word, who took two unnecessary-roughness penalties against Toronto on the same play, costing his team 30 yards, wasn't at practice and has left the team. Word's penalties came late in the first quarter, moments after Ben Cahoon's touchdown narrowed Montreal's deficit to 12-7. Six plays after the penalties,
R. Jay Soward scored, increasing the visitors' lead to 19-7.
"He left the team on his own, after my meeting with him," head coach Don Matthews said cryptically.
Reached later by telephone, Word pointed the finger for his departure squarely at Matthews.
"I don't like the way they do things. I sense no loyalty," he said. "They bring you in, you play a couple of games and then they make you out to be the scapegoat. There was one penalty on me, but we had allowed 12 points at that time and ended up allowing 49 points. It's not because of me that we lost."
Word, a free agent, joined the Als last month and started the last six games. He had one sack, one tackle for a loss, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble. He had eight tackles and knocked down a pair of passes.
"They told me they didn't know if I was going to start or play," said Word, who played for Hamilton in 2000 and '01 and spent time in the NFL with Cleveland and Kansas City. "If I'm not going to play, I don't want to be here."
Word, who had a history of taking penalties with the Als, got into shoving matches with Toronto receiver Robert Baker and offensive-lineman Jerome Davis. He said he acted out of frustration.
Felipe Claybrooks, another Montreal defensive end, didn't practise yesterday. He's suffering from a heel injury and could be replaced by Mawuko Tugbenyoh. Newcomer Omari Hand would be activated for Word. It also appears Dedric Mathis will make his Montreal debut at weak-side cornerback. Mathis spent the last four seasons with the Tiger-Cats and has seven career interceptions along with one touchdown.
Almondo Curry would be benched under this scenario.
While nobody associated with the Als organization is pleased with the team's humbling defeat to Toronto, especially because it probably cost Montreal a shot at first place, everyone is attempting to look at the situation philosophically, while shedding a positive light on the matter.
"I'm still irritated from the weekend," president Larry Smith said. "People will begin to write us off. Maybe that's a better position. When you're not taken seriously, you develop a positive mindset."
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