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ORLANDO, FL — The only sweat Anthony Calvillo broke Alouettes mini-camp was a result of the hot Florida sun.
Still recovering from his off-season shoulder surgery, Calvillo was a spectator on the sidelines of Orlando’s Airport Lakes Park, paving the way for second-year Alouette pivot Josh Neiswander to take on the majority of the reps under centre.
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Calvillo, who turns 41 in August, says his absence from action was merely for preventive reasons.
“It’s at 90 per cent, so it’s more of precautionary reasons to keep me out,” Calvillo told MontrealAlouettes.com.
“That’s the way it is right now, but I’ve been in this business long enough and I’m anxious to get out there but I’ll be ready for June 1st.”
In what was a day of firsts in more ways than one, Calvillo was given an opportunity to get a glimpse of what weapons will be at his disposal this season. His usual targets were all in attendance on day 1, with Jamel Richardson, SJ Green, Brandon London and Eric Deslauriers all hauling in passes from both Neiswander and newly acquired backup QB Quinton Porter.
While there were several newcomers helping the aforementioned regulars open up the three-day camp, the most notable Alouettes rookie was head coach Dan Hawkins.
This week’s camp is Hawkins’ first chance at seeing a good chunk of his roster in person. On the flip-side, it’s also a chance for veterans like Calvillo to see what their new boss is all about between the white lines.
The soon-to-be 20-year CFL veteran says there will obviously be some noticeable differences between the new regime and the old one.
“It’s definitely going to be different, we’ve all accepted that,” started Calvillo.
Now it’s just a matter of getting used to the tempo of the practices and all the little things that go on between plays.”
“This is our beginning and we’re going to grow from it, get used to it and go on from there,” he added.
On the surface, the differences between Hawkins and Marc Trestman are obvious. Hawkins has already established himself as a charismatic and enthusiastic presence, while Trestman’s time in Montreal was all about being reserved and humble.
Calvillo, who has played under six head coaches during his 15-year stay in Montreal, is ready for whatever Hawkins and his staff has planned for the upcoming campaign.
“Everything is different. From the meetings, to being out here, every small little detail…everything is different,” he admitted.
“But that’s what you expect with a new coach, they want to put their stamp on the guys on this field so they buy into it all. This is day one of buying into the new vision of our coach and we really look forward to the challenge,” he added.
What that stamp turns out to be is still unknown to Calvillo and the rest of his teammates. However, the CFL’s all-time leading passer is confident that whatever it develops into will have a positive impact on the organization.
“We’re still trying to get a feel for it right now, and we’ve gotten a chance to meet him a couple of times and we’ve seen today, but everything has been going so fast to be honest with you,” he said.
“This is just a little taste of what he wants to accomplish here with our football team and right now we’re just absorbing everything.”
With files from MontrealAlouettes.com