(Trois-Rivières) Tyrell Richards and William Stanback missed most of last season due to injuries. The two Alouettes can’t wait for the Montreal squad to begin its next season in order to put an end to 2022.

“It’s clear that I want to get back to my game from two years ago, but above all I want to be healthy,” said running back William Stanback after practice Tuesday at Diablos Stadium in CEGEP of Trois-Rivières. I want the league to know I’m back. »

“I hope to stay healthy: I definitely have things to prove. We always have it when we walk the pitch, but I want to prove that I’m the best player. Not just the best in my position, but the best point player, said Richards, a linebacker also used in special teams. When you play at this level, you have to have these kind of high standards. »

Joyful words for the Alouettes general manager Danny Maciocia, but which do not surprise him.

“Right now it’s performing very well. We are very satisfied, said Maciocia. Richards has the potential to be the best linebacker in the CHL. Not the best Canadian linebacker, but the best linebacker, period. We saw that a little bit in the last game against Ottawa, the way he played, the turnover he created. We also see that on special teams, the opposing team is practically unable to stop him. »

The Alouettes had concluded a trade with the Edmonton Elks in order to climb to first place in the 2022 draft to get their hands on Richards. Elbow and knee injuries, however, limited the Brampton, Ont., footballer to just seven games in 2022. He nonetheless took the opportunity to make five tackles, and four more on special teams.

“It was different, hard work,” Richards said of his rehabilitation. It made me enjoy playing football more. It brought me down to earth and made me want to be a better player. »

He has also changed his training methods in order to more easily withstand the higher workload of professional football.

“I’m still heavy lifting, but I’ve added a lot of plyometrics and running. I also do a lot of impact drills, for my knees and elbows, but also to learn how to land the right way and be ready to react.

“None of my injuries are bothering me at the moment. Yes, I wore an elbow brace in the last game, but unless it prevents me from playing, I don’t think about it, “he continued.

Stanback was injured in his team’s very first game. Sure, he came back with four games to play and was able to make the playoffs, but he obviously wasn’t up to speed in those games as he only carried the ball 34 times. for 153 yards.

Although his weight had nothing to do with it, Stanback showed up to camp lighter, at 233lbs, and the 6-foot footballer believes he will reap several benefits.

“It happened while I was training. I didn’t necessarily put effort into it, but I wanted to come in lighter, he admitted. I wanted to be more agile on my feet, especially after the injury I suffered last year. »

Stanback is eager to do battle with opposing defenses. In the meantime, he had to balance his efforts in Trois-Rivières.

“I had to hold myself back!” But the coaches have my health at heart and made sure I did enough to be ready for the first game without affecting my health. I push the machine, but just enough not to overdo it. »

Head coach Jason Maas had left out Stanback, quarterback Cody Fajardo and several veterans for the first preseason game last Friday in Ottawa. These players will be in uniform Friday, in Montreal, to face the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

“It’s hard not to be on the sidelines cheering on other quarterbacks, congratulating the offense after a successful push or the defense after a big play,” Fajardo said. But the rest has been beneficial: I’ve never felt better at this stage of a training camp. »

Fully recovered from a knee injury that plagued him last year, he attributes his great physical condition to his wife, who is a physiotherapist.

“It’s my secret weapon!” She made me do lots of exercises that I did not do before, especially for balance. I won’t give away all my secrets, but I’m in great shape and as you can see I don’t have to wear a brace anymore,” Fajardo said.

“Jason has done a great job with the schedule for this camp,” he added. We worked three days, then we had a day off, followed by another three days of camp and a preseason game. We wanted to show him we deserved the day off by getting high on the previous three days. »