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Veteran Kicker Whyte may sit out as Alouettes open season against Redblacks

06/24/2015 03:55 EDT | Updated 06/24/2016 05:59 EDT
MONTREAL - Coach Tom Higgins provided a little mystery Wednesday for the Montreal Alouettes' season opener against the Ottawa Redblacks.

Higgins will wait until the last minute to decide whether to use rookie Boris Bede as his kicker or have him share duties with veteran Sean Whyte when the two teams meet Thursday night at Percival Molson Stadium.

The situation has left Whyte, who has handled all three kicking jobs the last four years, disappointed and confused. Whyte told reporters he'd been informed he won't play, but Higgins said it isn't official.

He added if Whyte plays, he'll only kick field goals while the bigger, stronger Bede punts and does kickoffs.

"We still have one last opportunity to decide how this plays out," said Higgins. "We'll hold it close to our chests until one hour before the game.

"Sean is still disappointed he's not doing all three. He can say anything he wants but there's still a possibility he (plays)."

Bede played at Laval but is considered an international player because he's from France, while Whyte is Canadian. But Bede looks to have shown enough in training camp that the Alouettes would sacrifice an international player at another position to have him in the lineup.

"I like his attitude, his athleticism," Higgins said of Bede. "I like how the ball comes off his foot, whether it's punting or kickoffs.

"He messed up a bunch of practices because of the strength of his leg. He's kicking the ball so far that we can't do our kickoff returns."

With a new rule barring linemen from going downfield on punts until the ball is kicked, a high kick with plenty of hang time is essential this season.

Especially since the Redblacks signed Chris Williams, who had a record six return TDs in 2012 with Hamilton — including five on punts — before moving to the NFL.

With Kyle Graves injured, the Alouettes also have a new holder on kicks in Canadian quarterback Brandon Bridge.

Both teams go into the season confident they've improved from last year.

In Ottawa, 40-year-old quarterback Henry Burris will have receivers Maurice Price, Ernest Jackson and Williams to throw to, a marked improvement from a year ago when the expansion Redblacks finished last overall at 2-16. Williams and Burris were teammates in Hamilton in 2012.

And they have a new offensive co-ordinator in Jason Maas.

Montreal linebacker Bear Woods expects an improved Redblacks attack.

"They were a challenge last year," said Woods. "They were not able to finish games, but they played in so many tight games and they've bettered their roster.

"And anytime you have Henry Burris you have a chance to win. That's just a fact. It'll be a hard-fought game."

Montreal also rebuilt its receiving corps, with former all-stars Nik Lewis and Fred Stamps, as well as former Ticat Samuel Giguere, joining star receiver S.J. Green. Duron Carter, the team's leading receiver last year, is currently with the NFL's Indianapolis Colts.

Montreal also has new returner of its own in former B.C. Lion Stefan Logan.

The Alouettes started last season 1-7, but went 8-2 when Jonathan Crompton took over as quarterback in August. Crompton enters the season as a starter for the first time, but minus his signature long hair. It was cut Tuesday to be given to a children's charity.

"The helmet will fit better and then he doesn't have to worry about shampooing his hair after the game so that should save him some time," Higgins joked of the haircut.

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