CFL

Cahoon to return in backup role as Alouettes face Bombers

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The Canadian Press
7/3/2008 9:50:10 PM
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MONTREAL - Montreal Alouettes slotback Ben Cahoon could only smile when asked about the prospect of setting the franchise record for touchdown receptions.

The 11-year veteran needs only one to pass 1970s star Peter Dalla Riva, who put up 54 in his career. Cahoon matched that at the end of the 2007 season.

"Fifty-four  - that's not enough touchdowns in 11 seasons," he said Thursday. "What's that, like five a season?

"I'm kind of embarrassed about that. I wish it was more like 70."

Nonetheless, Cahoon will get his chance to go for the record when he returns to the lineup against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers tonight after sitting out the club's CFL season opener last week with a strained quadriceps muscle.

The game can be seen live on TSN, TSN HD and TSN.ca starting at 7pm et/4pm pt.

The Bombers are coming off a 23-16 loss to the Toronto Argonauts and for a second straight week will be without star slotback Milt Stegall, who has a knee injury.

Cahoon has not been a big touchdown receiver, except for 2003 when he scored 13 while making a career-high 112 receptions for 1,561 yards.

But he is Anthony Calvillo's go-to guy in tight situations and the Alouettes quarterback is pleased to have him back. The Orem, Utah, native who grew up in southern Alberta is only five-foot-nine and is not fast, but catches nearly everything thrown his way - in or out of traffic.

He is also looking to extend his streak of consecutive games with at least one catch to 93.

Cahoon pulled his leg muscle only four days into training camp and missed most of the work on new coach Marc Trestman's run-and-shoot offence, which clicked in their season-opening 33-10 win in Hamilton.

Now, he wonders what his place will be in the new scheme.

"This is my first real week of practice and I wasn't even practising every rep," he said. "I'm as excited as anybody, and curious to know what my role's going to be this year."

To start with, it will be backing up Danny Desriveaux, who played well in Cahoon's spot last week and will be one of the Alouettes' game captains this week with tackle Dave Mudge.

"We'll start easing Ben in - probably every third series or so," said Trestman. "He says he feels good."

Cahoon, who will turn 36 on July 16, is likely nearing the end of a career that saw him named the league's outstanding Canadian in 2002 and 2003. He needs 76 catches - an average season for him - to pass Saskatchewan great Ray Elgaard's record of 830 by a Canadian.

But talk of records tends to draw a blank with the soft-spoken Cahoon.

"It isn't a concern of mine," he said. "If you play long enough, numbers seem to add up."

Stegall will have to wait to resume his attack on Allen Pitts' record of 14,891 career receiving yards. He is only 296 yards short, but will have played three more seasons than the former Calgary Stampeder.

And the Bombers have other concerns after falling to 0-1 with a mistake-filled loss to Toronto, considered their chief rival for top spot in the East Division.

"There's a lot we can correct and that's the good part about it," said Bombers quarterback Kevin Glenn. "If it was a situation where it was things we couldn't control, that's when you push the panic button, but there's no reason to panic."

Winnipeg won both of its games against the Alouettes last season, including a 20-18 win in Montreal, but a nearly all-new coaching staff makes their opponent a bit of an unknown quantity this time.

The Alouettes looked good against lowly Hamilton, but it remains to be seen how Trestman's play-calling will go against a veteran Winnipeg side.

Calvillo was named player of the week for his performance in Hamilton, which kicker Damon Duval got special teams player of the week.

"We have a lot of new plays," said Calvillo. "That's been challenging for myself and especially for the receivers, because they have to move around and get used to the adjustments.

"And if we're dealing with it, I'm sure the defences have to deal with it all the more. It is a totally different offence."

Their performance moved Montreal to cut Jarrett Payton, their starting tailback last season who missed the opener with an injury, and hand the job to Avon Cobourne, who rushed for more than 100 yards against the Ticats.

The diminutive Cobourne is in his third season with Montreal, but has been used mostly on special teams and even did a stint last season at linebacker. But the new Montreal offence seems to suit his slashing style more than Payton's power running. He can also catch the ball out of the backfield.

"Any other offensive player with an ego would have packed it up if they told him to play linebacker," said Cobourne. "It humbled me.

"If my ego had got the best of me, I wouldn't be here now."

Now he hopes to do it again against Winnipeg, which won't be easy.

"We've corrected our mistakes and we're going to play good football," added Glenn. "One thing to watch is Montreal.

"They won last week and this is their home opener, so they'll be fired up and we'll have to match their intensity."

Ben Cahoon (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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