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Alouettes quarterback Rakeem Cato ready to explode against Blue Bombers

07/09/2015 05:01 EDT | Updated 07/09/2016 05:59 EDT
WINNIPEG - Rakeem Cato showed last week dynamite comes in small packages.

Whether the Montreal Alouettes' latest starting quarterback can blow up the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' struggling defence Friday remains to be seen.

But the way the six-foot, 178-pound Cato dissected the Calgary Stampeders' defence in his CFL debut 29-11 win last week has the Bombers (1-1) on their toes.

"There's not a lot of film of him, but I watched him last year at Marshall light it up so he does have the ability to do it," Bombers defensive end and former NFLer Jamaal Westerman said Thursday after Winnipeg's walk-through practice.

"You've just got to prepare, prepare, prepare and try to keep him contained because you don't want to let him get going a little bit."

Cato completed 20-of-25 pass attempts for 241 yards and three touchdowns versus the defending Grey Cup-champion Stampeders to give the Als (1-1) their first win of the season.

The 23-year-old rookie was a standout at Marshall University, finishing his career last year with a school-record 14,079 passing yards and 131 passing touchdowns.

Westerman said he did some broadcasting work for his alma mater Rutgers University last year and saw a lot of college ball, including Cato on the field.

"He played well," Westerman said. "I mean, he was up for the Heisman I think early in the season until he I think lost a game later or something, so he can make the plays."

Winnipeg's defence has given up more than 900 yards in two games and is looking to be stingy against the newcomer.

Cato finds himself the team's starter after shoulder injuries to Jonathan Crompton (six-game list) and backup Dan LeFevour (out for the season).

Although Canadian Brandon Bridge had finished Montreal's season-opening loss to Ottawa, Alouettes head coach Tom Higgins tapped Cato's shoulder for the game against Calgary.

Higgins said Cato is a pure passer who's "unfazed" by pressure, loves to play and he can see in him some of the qualities of Toronto quarterback Ricky Ray and CFL legend Doug Flutie.

"He has this, maybe it's the 'it' factor, which coaches can never describe," Higgins said. "We're thinking he might have it."

Running back Tyrell Sutton also rushed 25 times for 134 yards against the Stamps to balance out Montreal's attack.

Higgins said he's happy Bombers quarterback Drew Willy will be back behind centre after he took a helmet-to-helmet hit in Winnipeg's 52-26 loss to Hamilton last week.

Willy laid on the field for a few minutes near the end of the first quarter, walked off and didn't return. He said he wasn't knocked unconscious, feels great and trusts the team's medical staff in giving him clearance to play.

The trip to the sidelines doesn't make him more wary for his next game action.

"I won't have any fear out there," said Willy, adding he followed his regular routine this week.

Notes - Montreal middle linebacker Bear Woods had surgery for a torn pectoral muscle. Last season's East Division most outstanding defensive player was put on the six-game injured list. He'll be replaced by rookie Kyler Elsworth … The Bombers will have receiver Rory Kohlert back in the lineup … Winnipeg has won its past four games against the Als … Montreal has only allowed 31 points in their first two games.

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