MONTREAL - Tyrell Sutton says he is ready to play, but the Montreal Alouettes have yet to decide who will be their main running back in the CFL East Division final.
Coach Tom Higgins said Friday that he expects that only two of Sutton, Brandon Rutley and Chris Rainey will dress when the Alouettes face the Tigers-Cats on Sunday afternoon in Hamilton.
In practice, Sutton took some early carries, but Rutley and Rainey alternated on most plays.
"With any two of them, we'll be confident," said Higgins.
Sutton took over the starting job when Brandon Whitaker was injured late in the season. But he twisted an ankle in the final regular-season game, a 29-15 loss in Hamilton, and missed Montreal's blowout 50-17 win over the B.C. Lions in the East semifinal last week.
Rutley stepped in and ran for 95 yards on 15 carries.
"I'm truly happy for him," said Sutton. "If you pay attention to our depth chart this year, every guy has done a fantastic job of filling in for each other.
"It was just another back coming in to do what he's supposed to do and keep the ball rolling."
Running the ball will be tough no matter who lines up in the backfield. The Tiger-Cats had the CFL's best run defence this year, allowing only 76.8 yards per game for an average of 4.6 yards per carry.
The Alouettes were dominated on both sides of the ball two weeks ago in a game played in heavy wind and rain. But they've studied what went wrong and hope to do better the second time around.
"We didn't play very well in the wind and the rain," said Higgins. "Not that you have any control over that.
"They did a better job than us controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides. They did a very good job with the weather conditions and we didn't. It looks like weather's not going to be as much of a factor as the last time we played them. And being in a final is pretty exciting."
It will be a first East final for the veteran Higgins, the Alouettes first-year coach who spent most of his career in Edmonton and Calgary.
The fact Montreal is even in the final is a surprise after an 1-7 start to the season. The club has gone 9-2 since then and feels good about its chances of advancing to the Grey Cup game Nov. 30 in Vancouver.
"There's no one at the halfway mark that felt we would be anywhere near where we are today and we are a pretty darned good football team today," said Higgins. "I like our chances."
The Alouettes hoped to have kick returner James Rodgers back from a concussion, but Higgins said he's not ready and that Mardy Gilyard will be the returner for a second week in a row.
Defensive lineman Brian Brikowski, who suffered a concussion last week, is also out— so either of practice roster players D.J. Roberts or Caesar Rayford should play.
Jonathan Crompton was his usual unspectacular but effective self in his first CFL playoff game last week. Now he has that edge on Hamilton's Zach Collaros, who will be in his first post-season game.
"There you go, I guess that's a good thing," said Crompton.
Higgins smiled when asked what advice he had for Crompton and said: "Don't throw an interception and hand the ball off to the guy who is supposed to get it.
"I don't tell him anything. I don't think it's any bigger or smaller than any game he's ever played in. He's a very calm, collected, confident young man. It wouldn't matter if this was the Grey Cup. He'd probably have the same demeanour."