LENNOXVILLE, QC -- Though their reign as CFL champions ended in a rather unfashionable manner, the Montreal Alouettes – specifically their defence – are not looking to dwell in the past.
In fact, the hunger that they admit to have lacked in 2011 finally seems to have been restored.
And it just might be stronger than ever.
“I think that everyone is finally feeling the hunger, that special determination,” said Alouettes defensive back Billy Parker.
Almost eight months after the Als lost an overtime thriller to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the East Division Semi-Final, members of the Alouettes defence insist that the loss hasn’t resonated much in their minds.
“You just can’t live in the past,” said Shea Emry, who was on the sidelines during East Semi due to an injury.
“It sucks that I wasn’t a part of it, but that was last year and this is this year – it’s a new chapter,” he added.
The 26-year old Richmond, BC native spent the better part of his summer in Montreal recuperating, but did manage to return home to see his family for the holidays and for a fishing trip with his friends.
After a longer-than-usual off-season, Emry is happy to be back on the field.
“It’s great to be back with the boys, I’m extremely excited,” he said.
Entering his fifth season with the Als, Emry will likely be counted on to spearhead a new-look Als defence, one that features new personnel both on and off the field.
On the field, Emry will be joined by free agent signings Aaron Hunt, Rod Davis and Mark Restelli. Off the field, he’ll be coached by new defensive coordinator Jeff Reinebold, who makes his return to the CFL in 2012 following a lengthy 12-year hiatus.
Though the sample size isn’t quite big enough just yet, Emry is pleased with what he’s seen of Reinebold thus far.
“He’s got great energy and guys seem to be buying into him so far,” he said.
“Last year, I felt we were too structured and had a lot of responsibilities. This year, it seems like there’s going to be a good flow that makes everything easier,” he added.
Emry’s teammate Parker agrees.
“I felt like last year we didn’t meet up to our standards. In 2012 we’re going to learn the standards again and meet them.”
Last season, Parker was one of very few Alouettes veterans who didn’t succumb to injury. And while he believes that injuries did play a part in the team’s defensive struggles, he’s excited for the fresh start the group is presented with in 2012.
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“The good thing about having (Reinebold) around is that he isn’t familiar with us,” said Parker.
“He won’t already be looking to some guys to make certain plays; that’s something that everyone will have to work for,” he added.
The excitement behind Reinebold’s arrival seems to have elevated through the ranks, as even his boss offered high praise to his new defensive guru.
“What I liked today from Jeff was the continuity he maintained during practice,” said Als head coach Mark Trestman.
“You have to learn to practice before you can learn to play,” he said.
Suffice to say, the 2012 version of the Alouettes defence is hungry and eager to redeem themselves.