(Montreal) The news fell Friday morning: the Montreal Alouettes will be without the services of receivers Greg Ellingson and Tyson Philpot for the first six games of the season.

The Montreal football club put their names on the injured list for six games on the eve of their first game of the campaign, against the Ottawa Redblacks, Saturday, at Percival-Molson Stadium.

In addition to the two receivers, defensive lineman Brock Gowanlock was added to the list, which now includes seven players. Offensive linemen Sean Jamieson and David Brown, defensive back Raheem Wilson, and receiver Reggie White Jr. are also there.

This is very bad news for the group of inexperienced receivers of the Alouettes, who thus lose those who were possibly labeled nos 1 and 2 of the formation at this position.

Ellingson, acquired this winter on the free agent market, came to Montreal after nine successful years in the Canadian Football League. Philpot, a first-round pick in 2022, ninth overall, proved to be one of the key elements of the Montreal attack last season, when he was voted the most outstanding rookie in the East.

In their absence, the five starters in the position against the Rouge et Noir will be Canadians Kaion Julein-Grant and Hergy Mayala, newcomers Austin Mack and Keshunn Abram, as well as Cole Spieker, who we saw briefly at the end of the season. and in the playoffs in 2022.

“We have an inexperienced squad, but we knew that when we got to camp,” head coach Jason Maas said earlier this week. I think they did their job and know our playbook well. It is also up to the coaches to choose the games that will highlight them. »

In addition to these seven injuries, the Alouettes have decided to leave out receiver Jake Harty, running back Walter Fletcher, defensive end Avery Ellis, defensive back Kerfalla Exumé, linebacker Bryce Notree, as well as offensive lineman Patrick Davis for the game against Ottawa.

Ellis’ removal from the roster means defensive line rookies Israel Antwine and Lwel Uguak will both play their first CFL games as backups behind Mustafa Johnson and Nick Usher, respectively.

“We talked throughout camp about being tough, being consistent and being available. Every day he was coming out on the movies,” said Maas of Antwine, who also made a very good impression off the pitch.

“In addition to all of his athleticism, he’s a very good person and that’s a sought-after quality in this group,” the coach added.

On Thursday, defensive coordinator Noel Thorpe said he didn’t mind starting the season with two rookies on his line in the roster.

Group of inexperienced receivers, new head coach — and therefore, new system of play — and new starting quarterback: with so many new arrivals, what can we expect from the Alouettes this season?

The CFL.ca site placed the team ninth and last in its standings on the eve of the first week of the season. Many pundits don’t see them making the playoffs, yet the team was just eight points away from making the Gray Cup final last year.

“Lucky there aren’t 10 teams in the league,” general manager Danny Maciocia said this week. The only way to fix this is to talk to our performance on the pitch. »

“I don’t give a damn about predictions,” Maas said. I don’t even use it as motivation. I don’t care what these experts think. »

Cody Fajardo is eager to jump on the field for more than a few offensive series.

“There’s nothing like playing a full game, because if you start off badly, you have time to pick up. Even better: if you have a good start to the game, you don’t want it to end. »

The new Alouettes quarterback is eager to play his first official game in front of his new fans, even if he admits to feeling a little nervous.

The kickoff of this first game of the Alouettes season will take place at 7 p.m. on Saturday.