NEWS
07/23/2011 02:12 EDT | Updated 09/22/2011 05:12 EDT

Richardson anxious to return as Alouettes set for rematch with Roughriders

MONTREAL - Jamel Richardson emerged from a win two weeks ago in Regina with a knee injury but now the Montreal Alouettes slotback is set to return for a rematch with the same Saskatchewan Roughriders.

The rangy receiver will be wearing a knee brace, but says he is fit to go.

MONTREAL - Jamel Richardson emerged from a win two weeks ago in Regina with a knee injury but now the Montreal Alouettes slotback is set to return for a rematch with the same Saskatchewan Roughriders.

The rangy receiver will be wearing a knee brace, but says he is fit to go.

The 3-0 Alouettes take on the surprisingly 0-3 Roughriders at Percival Molson Stadium on Sunday night, as the two Grey Cup finalists meet for the second time in the opening four weeks of the schedule.

"I can do everything with or without the brace," Richardson said Saturday. "The first day in practice it was something you're not used to, but the second day was good and the third was better.

"So just imagine the game when my adrenaline takes over. I won't be thinking about the brace."

Quarterback Anthony Calvillo will be glad to have one of his favourite targets back.

Richardson piled up 276 yards on 18 catches in the team's first two games. Despite missing a week, he is second in the league behind Fred Stamps of Calgary, who had 317 yards on 17 catches.

Richardson wasn't needed in last week's 40-17 win over Toronto, when running back Brandon Whitaker took the spotlight by gaining a combined 216 yards on the ground and in short catches out of the backfield.

"Toronto (Montreal's last opponent) did a different defence than they showed on film, so we had to dump the ball to our underneath guys," said Calvillo. "So whether Jamel was there or not it wouldn't have mattered.

"But he is a difference maker on our offence. There are a lot of plays designed for him, so having him back opens up our repertoire."

Richardson was not the only Alouette to leave Regina hurting. It was an ultra-physical game, even nasty at times.

The team Montreal has beaten by tight margins in the last two Grey Cup games held the Alouettes to a 17-17 tie after 30 minutes, but as has happened each week, the defence came apart.

Roughriders safety Craig Butler was fined later for a helmet-to-helmet hit on S.J. Green, although Butler will sit this game out with an injury.

With Saskatchewan desperate for their first win of the year, the rematch is not likely to be any tamer.

"We expect it to be physical and hard fought but we don't expect anything illegal," said Montreal receiver Brian Bratton. "We just expect a hard-fought game. They've got some stand-up guys over there who play the game honestly, so we don't expect anything shady."

Like most of the CFL, Bratton is shocked to see the Roughriders in a hole. Even more surprising is that if they lose again, Saskatchewan and usually tough B.C. will both be 0-4. The Riders have not started a year 0-4 since 1995.

"We don't expect them to stay that way," he said. "They're a great team with great players."

In Richardson's absence, the man who replaced him, Eric Deslauriers, caught Calvillo's career record 395th touchdown pass and No. 396 went to Bratton. With Richardson back, receiver Dallas Baker will sit out.

The Alouettes are missing left tackle Josh Bourke, who will be replaced by rookie import Jeraill McCuller. That puts non-import linebacker John Surla in, mainly for special teams. Saskatchewan product and defensive back Paul Waldu is also expected to dress.

The Roughriders hope their pass coverage, which gave up five TDs to Montreal last time, will get a boost with the return of regular safety James Patrick.

They will have Tristan Jackson, who is also a kick returner, at cornerback in place of Tad Kornegay, the popular veteran who fans were shocked to learn was placed on waivers and released this week.

Coach Greg Marshall insists the Kornegay decision was not done simply to shake the squad out of their lethargy.

"I don't know what the effect will be," said Marshall. ''It certainly wasn't meant as a message sent.

"This was strictly based on what we thought was best for our team. We know Tad's been a valuable and popular member of the team, but you can't make decisions on popularity."

The Roughriders' defence is last in the CFL with 114 points allowed while their offence has generated only 56 in three games. The loss of receivers Andy Fantuz (to the NFL) and Rob Bagg (to injury) has clearly been felt. Quarterback Darian Durant has only three TD passes and has been picked off six times.

"It's early in the season, there's no need to panic," said Durant. "We know we need to win.

"We've been through the roughest of times and we'll find a way to dig ourselves out. Last year we had a four-game losing streak. We just stayed together and found a way to get out of the slump we were in. I think we'll do the same thing this year."

The Riders will also have Luc Mullinder in at rush end in place of Montez Murphy in a bid to get more heat on Calvillo.