It will be like old times for Dwight Anderson.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders colourful cornerback faces his former Montreal teammates for the first time when the two clubs meet at Mosaic Stadium on Saturday. Anderson expects the banter between himself and Alouettes receiver Brandon London to be just as lively as it was when they practised together.
“Oh yeah, he likes to yap I like to yap so fun times, that’s how I look at it,” Anderson told reporters. “B London is a good guy, I respect all those guys over there.
“I was over there for two years, a bunch of good guys. It’s almost the same thing we did last year in practice, 1s versus 1s all the time so it won’t be anything new.”
Anderson loves to talk and is very good at it. The five-foot-11, 188-pound defensive back is regarded as the one of the CFL’s top trash talkers.
But Anderson can back up his words. Three times he’s been named a West Division all-star and was a league all-star in 2010. He also helped Calgary win the Grey Cup in 2008.
The 32-year-old is also regarded as one of the CFL’s top cover defenders. He gives a defensive co-ordinator the luxury of doubling up another downfield threat or leaving his secondary on an island to blitz linebackers and create more pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
However, Anderson also plays on the edge. Earlier this season, he was fined for objectionable conduct by the CFL for making a “throat slashing” gesture towards the Edmonton bench in a 39-18 season-opening win over the Eskimos. He was also penalized for being abusive towards officials, receiving two objectionable conduct penalties in the contest.
But the much-travelled Anderson has 10 years of pro experience (NFL and CFL) and his veteran savvy is one reason the Riders (5-1) went after him this off-season as a free agent. Anderson and his Saskatchewan teammates will look to resume their winning ways following last week’s 42-27 loss to Calgary.
Montreal (2-4) is struggling, especially on offence where the Alouettes are ranked last in passing even with veteran quarterback Anthony Calvillo. The 40-year-old, in his 20th CFL season, is pro football’s all-time passing leader and coming off consecutive 5,000-yard campaigns.
But this off-season head coach Marc Trestman left for the NFL’s Chicago Bears. Calvillo excelled under Trestman, an offensive-minded coach and quarterback guru who led Montreal to three Grey Cup appearances (two wins) over five seasons.
Through six games, Calvillo has just 1,237 passing yards, a pace that would leave him under 4,000 for the season, something that hasn’t happened since 2007.
Montreal fired Dan Hawkins as coach just five games into his CFL tenure. GM Jim Popp took over as interim head coach but the Alouettes lost 38-13 to Toronto on Aug. 8.
“Anytime you get a new offensive system coming in, especially over there you had Marc for four or five years and it was a change for everybody,” Anderson said. “AC is the type of guy who always wants everything to be accurate and on point so if anything is off it kind of throws him off to.
“That’s the same thing we try and do on defence, try and give him different looks, try and throw him off his game. Hopefully this week, he just don’t get right yet.”
MILESTONE FOR SIMON: Saskatchewan slotback Geroy Simon can join a very select group Saturday versus Montreal.
Simon needs two catches to become the third player in CFL history to accumulate 1,000 career receptions. The 15-year veteran is the all-time receiving yards leader (15,981 and counting) and third in career catches behind Ben Cahoon (1,017) and Terry Vaughn (1,006).
After opening the season with a leg injury, Simon, 37, has nine receptions for 194 yards and a TD in three contests.
FANTUZ RETURNS: Hamilton will have veteran slotback Andy Fantuz in the lineup when it visits Winnipeg on Friday night.
Fantuz has been out since Hamilton’s season opener with a hamstring injury. The former Western star opened the 2012 campaign with 10 catches for 155 yards and a touchdown in a 39-34 road loss to Toronto.
But the eight-year CFL veteran was hurt the following week during practice and has been out since.
Hamilton (2-4) has struggled without Fantuz, the CFL’s top Canadian in 2010, but the offence hasn’t. The Ticats have the league’s top passing attack, averaging 307 yards per game.
The six-foot-four, 221-pound native of Chatham, Ont., will bring a veteran presence to Hamilton’s receiving corps while giving quarterback Henry Burris another reliable target.
VEGA A FREE AGENT: Former Winnipeg defensive end Jason Vega was released by the NFL’s New England Patriots this week but that doesn’t mean he’s immediately poised to return to the Blue Bombers.
Vega is a CFL free agent and upon clearing NFL waivers will be free to sign with any team he wishes.
The six-foot-four, 255-pound Vega had 12 sacks combined the past two years with Winnipeg. But the Bombers have a league-leading 24 sacks this season without him in their lineup.
DEANGELIS IN: Veteran kicker Sando DeAngelis will make his Winnipeg debut Friday night against Hamilton.
DeAngelis, 32, of Niagara Falls, Ont., signed with Winnipeg on Tuesday but will handle kickoffs and field goals versus Hamilton. Veteran kicker Justin Palardy had appeared in 53 straight games for the Bombers.
Winnipeg becomes DeAngelis’s fifth team in his nine-year CFL career. He spent five seasons with Calgary (2005-’09) before joining the Ticats as a free agent in 2010.
Hamilton released DeAngelis on May 24, 2011 and he signed with Montreal, He spent the 2011 season with the Alouettes before receiving his release in February 2012.
DeAngelis signed with Saskatchewan in August 2012 but was let go in January.