MONTREAL — Four key pieces will be missing from the Montreal Alouettes attack when they play host to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Friday night at Percival Molson Stadium.
Quarterback Kevin Glenn missed practice all week with an inflamed eye, so sophomore Rakeem Cato will get his first start of the season for the 1-1 Alouettes.
Star slotback S.J. Green is gone for the season after tearing up a knee in a loss two weeks ago against Ottawa. In the same game, running back Tyrell Sutton and receiver Kenny Stafford were injured.
The only positive news was that receiver Duran Carter, who was suspended one game for bumping Ottawa coach Rick Campbell, looks likely to play while his punishment is under appeal, a process that could take a month.
"I just have to be prepared to play," said Cato, who started eight games in a row in one stretch as a rookie before Glenn was acquired from Saskatchewan in a late-season trade.
Cato went in for three plays against Ottawa when Glenn took a knock and looked to be moving the offence nicely.
"It helped a lot just getting my feet wet, running around with the guys," he said. "Any time you get one rep or 20 as a quarterback it helps."
Backup Brandon Rutley takes over as running back, while B.J. Cunningham and newcomer Corbin Louks move in at slotback and receiver respectively, joining veterans Carter, Nik Lewis and Sam Giguere in the receiving group.
Carter feels the offence can get the job done.
"Cato's more of a risk taker," he said. "He likes to throw the ball out there, so it will be interesting.
"Me, Cunningham, Louks and Giguere are all experienced receivers whether it's in the CFL or NFL and we have a lot of trust in our guys, so we should be OK."
Carter suffered a hard hit to the head on the touchdown catch that preceded the incident with Campbell. He turned up this week with headaches that coach Jim Popp said were not from a concussion. Carter said he feels fine and is fit to play.
"As far as a concussion and all that, I'll leave that to the lawyers in the appeal and all that," he said. "I've had a few bad headaches.
"They seemed to subside as the week went through. That's all I can say. I feel really good and hopefully I'll feel great (on Friday)."
Popp said Glenn may dress in place of third-stringer Brandon Bridge, but likely would only play if the two quarterbacks ahead of him, Cato and Vernon Adams, get hurt.
Veteran offensive tackle Jeff Perrett said it makes little difference to the blocking if Glenn or Cato is behind centre, although he joked that dealing with Cato's somewhat slurry speech can be a challenge.
"Other than trying to understand him in the huddle — it might take a little longer sometimes for that — but it's all pretty good," said Perrett. "I think he's comfortable now with this offence and he had a good week of practice.
"We're coming off the bye week, which gave us a little extra time. Which we probably needed."
Hamilton (1-2) is hungry after two straight losses, including a 28-24 defeat at Winnipeg least week that saw the Ticats turn over the ball six times.
Hamilton has been without starting quarterback Zach Collaros since the start of the season but, while he has returned to the roster, he won't play this week. Jeremiah Masoli has looked mostly solid in his place so far, apart from throwing four interceptions.
And the Ticats still have ace returner Brandon Banks, who ran back a missed field goal for a touchdown against the Blue Bombers.