Alouettes starting to ‘have fun’ as they look for fourth straight win

MONTREAL — Alouettes quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. wasn’t about to let running back Will Stanback — in a rush to leave practice to get a haircut — duck the media early.

“You’re the performer of the month,” Adams yelled at Stanback at the end of a loose walkthrough ahead of a Friday night clash between the Alouettes and Ottawa Redblacks at Percival Molson Stadium.

Embracing a fun atmosphere before game day — exemplified by the Tim Hortons cowboy hat Stanbeck sported on Thursday — has become a staple under interim head coach Khari Jones.

“If you’re not enjoying the grind and enjoying the process, then it can take its toll on you,” Jones said. “Some of the best teams that I’ve been a part of, they knew how to enjoy themselves. They knew how to joke around, have fun. But they also knew when it was time for business.

“It’s just about these guys knowing that it’s OK to have a good time out here and enjoy it as long as they’re putting the work in.”

The looseness is made easier by the fact that the Alouettes (3-2) have won three straight since an inauspicious start to the year, which saw them fire head coach Mike Sherman before taking a regular season snap. It’s also a way to distract from the continuing uncertainty over the team’s ownership situation. Montreal is currently being administered by the league as it searches for a replacement for former owner Robert Wetenhall.

Adams will start at quarterback against Ottawa despite opening-day starter Antonio Pipkin — who was injured in the season opener — returning to the active roster. But Adams said he’s aware the offence isn’t necessarily his going forward.

“I still feel like I need to show guys more,” Adams said. “I feel like I need to lead and help win a few more games so I can say this is my team.”

Pipkin, meanwhile, is just happy to be healthy.

“We’re winning games, at the end of the day that’s what it’s about,” he said. “When you win games, nothing else really matters. You’ll roll from there.

“I know, personally, I’ll get a chance to play again whenever that is. I’ll be ready. But right now it’s about being a good teammate.”

One of the Alouettes’ three victories came against the Redblacks, a 36-19 decision, back on July 13. Ottawa is now on a four-game slide and Montreal is anticipating a team hungry to end its losing ways.

“I’ve been there, so I know exactly what they’re feeling,” Alouettes defensive end John Bowman said. “They want to do anything they can to get a win. And they feel like once they get a win, then their ball can start rolling the right way.”

Bowman and the Alouettes will focus on keeping the good times rolling for themselves.

“It’s safe to say things are a bit more fun,” Bowman said.

OTTAWA REDBLACKS (2-4) VS. MONTREAL ALOUETTES (3-2)

Friday, Molson Stadium

TOP PERFORMER: Stanback was named a Canadian Football League top performer for the month of July. The New York native has 504 rushing yards and four touchdowns in five games this season.

BACK IN THE SADDLE: Redblacks quarterback Dominique Davis will start Friday for the Redblacks. Davis suffered a lower leg injury in the Week 5 loss against the Alouettes.

UNDER THE BRIDGE: In order to accommodate Pipkin onto the active roster, the Alouettes released quarterback Brandon Bridge this week.

FOUR OR FIVE IN A ROW?: The Alouettes are searching for their fourth straight win, something they haven’t done since 2014 when Jonathan Crompton was their quarterback. Ottawa, meanwhile, is trying to avoid a five-game losing streak.

READY TO GO: Alouettes receiver B.J. Cunningham is slated to return after missing his team’s last game because of injury.

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