Larry Taylor knows better than most how dangerous the Montreal Alouettes can be.
Calgary’s veteran receiver won a pair of Grey Cups playing for the Alouettes in 2009 and 2010. He said the battle for field position will be crucial in the opening game of the CFL season for both teams Sunday.
“It’s very important especially this type of game going against a Montreal team that starts fast coming out of the gates and a team that’s solid in every phase of the game,” said Taylor.
Taylor joined the NFL’s New York Jets last season on their practice roster. He then returned to Montreal and played the final game of the 2011 season with the Als.
“By me being a couple years over there I know what it’s about so it’s very important for us guys to come out and start fast,” Taylor said. “Playing on special teams, we’ve got to have good field position. Whoever has a short field, it puts you in a better position to put some points up on the board whether it’s a (touchdown) or a field goal.”“
Taylor signed with Calgary in February 2011 and helped the Stamps earn a pair of victories — 38-31 at home on Aug. 27 and 32-27 on the road on Oct. 30 — over the Alouettes last season.
He said the nostalgia is gone now, and Sunday’s match against the Als in Calgary will be like any other game.
“It doesn’t matter what logo is on that helmet or what the name says on the jersey, it’s just another opponent coming into our house and we want to defend our turf,” said Taylor, who was Calgary’s nominee for most outstanding special teams player last year.
Veteran Montreal quarterback Anthony Calvillo said that the Alouettes are wary of what their former teammate can do once he gets the ball in his hands.
“Larry’s always been a game changer,” Calvillo said. “For whatever reason, he’s no longer with us, but as you can see they’re utilizing him here in Calgary not only as a return guy, but just to get the ball in his hands because he’s a special athlete. I’m sure they’re going to continue to do that as they go into this year as well.”
Back for his 19th season and 15th straight with Montreal, the 39-year-old Calvillo said that he and his teammates are all excited heading into their opening game against the Stamps.
“Once the pulse leaves me, then it’s time to retire,” Calvillo said. “I’m always anxious visualizing the games — the palms sweating, your stomach turning before games — because you’re just thinking about it to make sure that you know what you’re doing. That has not changed.”
Calgary defensive back Brandon Smith said that facing Calvillo and the Alouettes is always a daunting task.
“As usual we’ve just got to go out and play sound football,” Smith said. “We’ve just got to play fast. We’ve just got to get him off his rhythm and know when the ball comes our way we have to be in position to make the play.”
While Calvillo will once again guide Montreal’s offence, Calgary will count upon Drew Tate’s play-calling abilities. Tate took over as Calgary’s starting quarterback late last season and guided the Stamps to three straight wins, including one over the Alouettes in Montreal.
Montreal coach Marc Trestman said he expects Tate to be dangerous this season.
“He’s an exciting player,” said Trestman. “Through his experience and now with a fresh start, he improves the quality of our entire league by the value he brings with his play.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us.”
Montreal defensive back Dwight Anderson, who played three seasons for the Stamps from 2008-10, agreed with his coach’s assessment of Tate.
“I’ve seen him throw a lot when I was here when he was on the scout team,” Anderson said. “Like I told the guys, Drew’s a good quarterback. You can’t come out here just joking around with him, because he’ll pick you apart. Obviously he proved that he’s a good quarterback, so you’ve got to give him his respect.”
Heading into his first full season as a starter, Tate said he knows he’s got a tough challenge ahead of him this season starting with Calgary’s home opener against Montreal.
“Our challenge is really to be confident and comfortable in our game plan,” Tate said. “We’ve had a good week of practice, so hopefully we can execute. They’ve got a good group, so we’ve got to be sharp.”