Alouettes DE Gabriel Knapton has a score to settle against the Lions


During his brief tenure with the British Columbia Lions, Gabriel Knapton lived in Washington state, not far from the team’s Surrey practice facility. It wasn’t uncommon for him and Travis Lulay to carpool together.

But Friday night at Molson Stadium (7:30 p.m., TSN, RDS, TSN Radio-690), Knapton is going to try and discombobulate the Lions quarterback.

“He’s a great guy and a smart dude, but I’m going to get after him. That’s my job and I’m going to do my job,” the Alouettes’ veteran rush end vowed. “I’m very excited to face this team. I’m fired up. I’m ready to go out there and make a lot of plays.”

Knapton spent four seasons with Montreal before being traded west last winter for receiver Chris Williams. And Knapton believed he was playing well for his new team. But then the Lions acquired Shawn Lemon in a trade from Toronto, rendering Knapton, 29, redundant.

He was signed as a free-agent by Montreal shortly following his release, and returned to the starting lineup Aug. 31 at Ottawa, producing two tackles in the Als’ victory.

Now, coming off a bye in the schedule, it’s evident the 6-foot-3, 263-pound native of Mead, Col., has an axe to grind against his former organization.

“I want to show them they made a big mistake,” he admitted. “I haven’t changed as a player, and I’m not going to. They’re going to get exactly what they had over there. They know what to expect. I’m going to get after them and make a lot of plays.”

While the Als remain near the bottom of the Canadian Football League’s statistics on defence, allowing an average of 30.8 points per game — only Toronto has surrendered more — a feeling of optimism exists.

Montreal is on a two-game winning streak, held the Argonauts to 22 points, then went on the road and limited Ottawa to 11 while keeping the Redblacks out of the end zone — a rare feat in the high-scoring CFL.

“We took another step forward in our progression and evolution as a defence and unit. That’s why we’re seeing the results,” said middle-linebacker Henoc Muamba, one of numerous high-priced defensive free-agents signed last winter by the Als.

“It wasn’t our best game (against Ottawa), that’s the scary part,” he added. “I truly feel there’s a lot of plays we left on the field due to us taking the next step and understanding exactly he nuances of the defence and our job responsibilities.”

Although the defence devised by co-ordinator Rich Stubler is believed to be complex and multi-faceted, Muamba said it’s not that complicated. Instead, he believes its myriad struggles had more to do with so many new pieces coming together at the same time.

“That’s all it is, knowing what the guy next to you is doing … how he rushes,” Knapton said. “As the weeks go on, it’s only going to get better and better.”

Meanwhile, Stubler has continued working this week despite suffering five cracked ribs while riding his bicycle to Olympic Stadium. A driver of a parked car didn’t see him approaching and opened the door, resulting in a violent impact.

Stubler has been at practice riding a motorized scooter to help his navigation and was quick to tell media members on Thursday he hadn’t suffered a stroke. He turned 69 on Aug. 4.

Head coach Mike Sherman said he might ask Stubler to watch Friday’s game from the assistant coaches’ booth, simply to get out of the line of fire.

“I told him three months ago (riding his bike to work) wasn’t a good idea,” Sherman quipped. “No right turn on red. No riding bikes.

“He’s a tough guy. He hasn’t missed a day of work. He can do just about anything. It amazes me what he’s doing right now.”

hzurkowsky@postmedia.com

twitter.com/HerbZurkowsky1

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