Marc Trestman and Marcel Desjardins may be gone, but Alouettes' fans shouldn't trash the posters just yet, as there certainly won't be any lack of big names at Montreal's training camp this year. Cornerback Byron Parker and wide receiver Arland Bruce III, both former league all-stars recently cut by the B.C. Lions, are headed to the Alouettes, and they'll be joined by one-time Hamilton starting quarterback Quinton Porter. These signings may or may not wind up making an impact for the Alouettes, but they'll certainly provide some extra storylines to keep an eye on in camp.
Parker would seem the most likely candidate to have a significant impact in Montreal. He's a three-time league all-star (2006, 2007 and 2011) and has been one of the best cornerbacks in the league for much of the last decade, but he's only turning 32 in March. He should have plenty left in the tank. He also could fill a vital hole; the Alouettes' secondary has been an issue for some time, and they were torched for 399 aerial yards by Ricky Ray and the Argos in last year's East Final (which they still almost won thanks to their own offence). Big-name acquisitions haven't always paid off in the secondary (see Dwight Anderson, whose Montreal tenure hasn't really lived up to expectations and who may be moving on as a free agent), but there's every reason to believe Parker can be a capable presence in the Alouettes' defensive backfield for the next few years at least. He also would appear to have the easiest path towards a starting role in Montreal, as it seems quite likely the Alouettes' secondary's in for a substantial makeover this season.
The situation's a little more complicated for Bruce. He shone with B.C. following a midseason trade from Hamilton in 2011, putting up 49 catches for 755 yards and eight touchdowns and playing a key role in the Lions' Grey Cup, but his production fell to 43 receptions for 603 yards and five touchdowns last year. Some of that was thanks to a concussion that held him out of the lineup for several weeks, but he also found it difficult to consistently crack B.C.'s lineup of talented receivers (and attract throws when he was in the lineup; there are only so many passes to go around). That seems likely to perhaps be a problem in Montreal as well, as the Alouettes have a tremendous receiving corps. S.J. Green and Jamel Richardson will likely see the majority of targets, while fellow imports Brandon London and Brian Bratton have also become capable receivers, as has Canadian Eric Deslauriers. Montreal's also historically thrown plenty of passes to running backs like Brandon Whitaker, Victor Anderson, Chris Jennings and Noel Devine, as well as fullbacks/tight ends like Patrick Lavoie. Bratton's the only receiver who could hit free agency this year, and the Alouettes have expressed interest in bringing him back; players like Trent Guy and Bo Bowling could be in the mix as well. Bruce has a star pedigree, but he'll be 36 in November and has suffered plenty of recent injuries. It will be interesting to see if he's able to break through in camp and claim a regular role or if he winds up being cut.
Porter's status with the Alouettes also is far from certain. His tenure in Hamilton was significantly up-and-down, and he eventually lost the starting job there to Kevin Glenn (who in turn was traded for Henry Burris). Acquiring him seems mostly like a plan to have an experienced backup in place for Anthony Calvillo in case Adrian McPherson leaves in free agency (which isn't a certainty). However, there will be plenty of competition for quarterback spots with Montreal, as they also have Stephen Garcia and Josh Neiswander and they've brought back Canadian Kyle Quinlan. Tim Tebow has also been linked to the team, and while that's a long shot, that could potentially happen if the rest of the NFL passes on him. It's going to be a crowded camp for quarterbacks, and while Porter could potentially impress and earn the #2 slot, he could also be cut before the season starts. Still, bringing him, Bruce and Parker in certainly should make for some interesting stories in Montreal, and all three players will be worth keeping an eye on as the season approaches.
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