The Alouettes got back to the business of playing football Tuesday morning, two days after the sudden firing of general manager Kavis Reed.
“I addressed (the players) at the start of our meeting and just told them what happened and what I know, and then we moved on to Edmonton,” head coach Khari Jones said after practice as the Alouettes prepared to face the Eskimos Saturday at Molson Stadium (4 p.m. Eastern, TSN, RDS, TSN 690 Radio). “We know in this business it’s a rough business and things happen. I got a chance to talk to Kavis. Called him up and just thanked him for putting this team together and the people that are here because that was part of him and part of what he did. And now it’s on to our next game.
“I think they were OK,” Jones added about his players’ reaction to Reed’s firing. “I saw them a couple of days after it happened, so maybe they had time to process it themselves. Like I said, it was business as usual in our meetings and everything. I’m sure guys had relationships with him and it’s to be expected. But it’s a tough business and you know things like this can happen and you deal with them. But the biggest thing for me is to make sure the product on the field is right and we continue to do the things that we’ve been doing to be successful for a couple of games. And so that’s been my main focus, and it will continue to be my main focus.”
The Alouettes are coming off a 36-19 victory Saturday in Ottawa and have won their last two games to improve to 2-2 and move into a second-place tie with the Redblacks in the East Division, trailing the first-place Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who are 4-1.
Jones confirmed Vernon Adams Jr. will make his third straight start Saturday and that Antonio Pipkin, who suffered an ankle injury in the season opener, could be ready to dress as the backup. Adams was named one of the CFL’s players of the week on Tuesday after completing 23 of 30 passes for 327 yards and two touchdowns against the Redblacks.
“It was shocking,” Adams said about Reed’s firing. “I can’t really talk about that too much. For me, I’m not worried about none of that. At my pay grade, I come to work and I just try to help win games, do what I can. Whoever’s at coach, whoever’s at GM, whatever they call, whatever shots they call, I just try to help to get it done. As of now, that’s for everybody else, for the media to talk about it. But I have nothing to say about it. I don’t know nothing about it, and that’s just that. I’m not worried about it. I’m worried about winning games.”
Reed’s firing means Jones will now share the team’s day-to-day management duties with assistant GM of player personnel Joe Mack and Patrick Donovan, the director of football operations. There have been reports one of the reasons Reed might have been fired was for circumventing the CFL salary cap. Jones said he has yet to hear anything about that.
“We’ll see as time goes on,” Jones said. “My first and foremost job is to be the coach of this team, and regardless of whatever else is put upon me or the rest of the guys. The big focus is the team. We’ll deal with everything else as it comes and figure things out.”
Reed’s firing came just as the Alouettes were finally generating some good news on the field after missing the playoffs in each of the last four seasons.
“It’s like as soon as things got a little quiet here — we’re not a dumpster fire or a poop show — then this comes about,” veteran defensive-end John Bowman said. “We just got to handle it and just keep our heads down and try and win games, and that’s it.
“I’ve had 1,000 teammates; I’ve probably had 25 head coaches,” added Bowman, who is in his 14th season with the Alouettes. “So we know anybody’s susceptible to being fired or being released or being cut. So we just got to treat this as a profession and move on.”
Jones wants his players to simply focus on football.
“I told the guys I almost like being in the basement in Olympic Stadium because it feels like you’re in a submarine and you’re away from everything of life, and so you can just concentrate on what needs to be done,” the coach said about the practice locker room. “So if we can take that kind of submarine mentality and just say: ‘You know what, let’s just do what we need to do.’ I think the guys have done a good job of that so far with the change to me (as head coach), with whatever changes happened, and hopefully they can continue to do that.”
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