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Alouettes to use rookie QBs Bridge, Cato against Grey Cup champions

07/02/2015 04:03 EDT | Updated 07/02/2016 05:59 EDT
MONTREAL - It could be that coach Tom Higgins was having some fun with his dire quarterback situation by not announcing which rookie, Brandon Bridge of Rakeem Cato, will be Friday's starter.

Higgins would only say that both 23-year-olds will see action when the Alouettes play host to the Grey Cup champion Stampeders at Percival Molson Stadium.

"I'm very pleased that you don't know who the starting quarterback is, but flip a coin and know that both are going to be playing," said Higgins.

The Alouettes (0-1) landed in hot water when starter Jonathan Crompton and newly acquired backup Dan LeFevour both suffered shoulder injuries in a CFL season-opening 20-16 loss to the Ottawa Redblacks last week. Third stringer Tanner Marsh was already on the six-game injured list with a knee problem.

Bridge should have the upper hand because he dressed as the third quarterback and ended up playing most of the last two quarters against Ottawa, while Cato has yet to see any CFL action.

But Cato, considered the better passer of the two, was equally impressive in the pre-season.

Either way, the Montreal offence is in deep against the Stampeders (1-0), who are coming off a comeback 24-23 win at home over Hamilton.

"All they told us is that me and Cato are both going to play and they said for us to be ready," said Bridge, a Mississauga, Ont., native and a rare Canadian pivot in the CFL. "It's like a 1- 1A thing.

"I don't know if their idea is to go with the hot hand. That would be the smartest thing to do. Whoever's hot, you just keep rolling with him."

If Bridge starts, he will be the first Canadian to start a CFL game since B.C.'s Giulio Caravatta in 1996, when Bridge was four years old.

"Honestly, I didn't think about it until you guys, the media, kept bringing it up," said Bridge, who played at South Alabama before the Alouettes picked him the fourth round of the this year's draft. "All I want to do is start.

"I don't think about it being the first quarterback to start in a long time. I just want to help this team win, that's all."

The rookies at least have a veteran receiving crew to work with, including former Stampeders star Nik Lewis.

"We love challenges," said Lewis. "We're going to put it on our shoulders.

"We're going to have to make plays no matter who is throwing the ball. I've been on teams that won games with rookie quarterbacks, so I'm confident."

They will also try to run the ball as much as possible and running back Tyrell Sutton is ready if there is extra work.

"I'm hoping I can take some pressure off the young guys," said Sutton. "I know the game's going to be flying around for them, so the biggest thing for me is to keep them calm and mellowed out."

The Stampeders only road loss in 2014 was in Montreal but they have a prime chance to correct that on this visit. It will be a test for quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, who uncharacteristically had three passes intercepted against the Ticats. He threw only eight picks in all of last season.

Crompton was placed on the six-game injured list with a separated shoulder while LeFevour is out for the season with a dislocated and fractured shoulder.

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