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Popp says Berry will call plays for Alouettes vs. Argonauts

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The Canadian Press
8/7/2013 10:33:51 PM
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MONTREAL -- With all the changes the Montreal Alouettes have made recently, Anthony Calvillo still wasn't sure Wednesday who he'd hear calling the team's offensive plays against the Toronto Argonauts.

Montreal GM Jim Popp, the Alouettes interim head coach, made it clear former CFL head coach Doug Berry will be sending plays into Calvillo although he wasn't exactly sure where from.

"We're determining whether we want that direct combination of Doug and Anthony looking at each other coming off the sideline or do we keep it the same (from upstairs coach's box)," Popp said. "All of a sudden if we flip there's another change so we haven't decided that."

Popp will begin his third coaching stint with the Alouettes (2-3) when they host the defending Grey Cup champions Thursday night at Percival Molson Stadium. Popp replaces Dan Hawkins, who was fired after five games despite signing a three-year contract in the off-season with the club.

Berry was hired as a special advisor to Hawkins when he unveiled his new coaching staff Feb. 19. Now Montreal's struggling offence is in the hands of Berry, a former Alouettes offensive co-ordinator and Winnipeg head coach.

Be it from the coach's box or the sidelines, Berry will be in constant communication with Calvillo against Toronto. Mike Miller, who served as Hawkins' offensive co-ordinator, will have a more focused role working with Calvillo.

"They're still discussing what's best and we'll have that all ready to go (Thursday) but if there's a switch it'll be one for one," Popp said. "Mike will go to the box and Doug will come down, or we'll leave it exactly the same.

"Either way, Doug is calling the play."

Montreal and Toronto split their season series last year before the Argos defeated the Alouettes in the East Division final en route to winning the 100th Grey Cup. After a 1-2 start this season, the Double Blue is atop the conference with a 3-2 record.

"They play well together," said Alouettes receiver Arland Bruce III, a former Argo. "You know, they talk, they communicate well and we just have to take advantage of the holes that they leave open for us and just keeping chipping away, chipping away.

"I think we have a good package in for that and we'll see what happens."

Toronto head coach Scott Milanovich served as Montreal's offensive co-ordinator when the club won consecutive Grey Cups in 2009 and 2010 under Marc Trestman. Trestman is now the head coach with the NFL's Chicago Bears.

Chris Jones, Toronto's assistant head coach and defensive co-ordinator, also won the first of his Grey Cup rings in 2002 as Montreal's defensive line coach.

The two teams will meet three times over the next five weeks, including a home-and-home series five days apart in early September.

"We've been preparing for Toronto," Calvillo said. "We know they're a great team.

"We know coach Jones is very creative in what he is able to do with the defence with all the different looks but we've had a great week of preparation. Things have been different for us in terms of we were able to get the game plan a lot earlier this week."

Calvillo said despite the coaching change, Montreal's offence has been able to get a lot of work done.

"We were able to rep a lot of plays," he said. "I mean, that first day was almost 50 plays, the second day was almost 40 plays and then (Tuesday) was about 20 plays.

"It went very fast and the good thing is we executed at a high level so I think overall we're headed in the right direction."

Montreal won't have veteran receiver Jamel Richardson as the two-time all-star suffered a season-ending knee injury earlier this week in practice. Richardson cracked the 1,000-yard receiving plateau for the fifth time last year and had 18 catches for 197 yards this season.

"What you'll see the rest of the season is receivers moving into different positions," Popp said. "They won't all just be a wide receiver or a slot receiver."

Running back Brandon Whitaker (shoulder) won't play Thursday. That's a big blow as Whitaker ran for 162 yards in Montreal's 32-27 win over Edmonton on July 25 before being injured.

Whitaker hopes to return for next week's road game at Saskatchewan.

Defensive tackle Moton Hopkins replaces Scooter Berry, who suffered a season-ending knee injury against Edmonton. Hopkins missed all of last season after a blood clot was discovered in his lung.

Hopkins had a Greenfield Filter inserted into a vein in his chest to prevent another clot from reaching his lung.

"It's been a long, long time," he said. "And then watching on the sidelines while being here was tough, too.

"But I understand the situation and I'm just really excited to get an opportunity. I hate that it had to come with Scoot getting hurt because I love the dude to death, but I'm really happy to get a chance to play again."

You can catch the Alouettes hosting the Argonauts live on TSN and TSN Mobile TV on Thursday at 7:30pm et/4:30pm pt.

Doug Berry (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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