November 11, 2007

Fritz regains spot on offensive line

By Herb Zurkowsky,
Montreal Gazette

The story has now come full-circle. The Alouettes began the season with an all-Canadian offensive line, as they’ll end the 2007 campaign. And that means Luke Fritz finally gets the opportunity to play again.

But he didn’t want it to be under these conditions.

“I knew this was how it would go down. It was the only way I’d play, due to an injury or a bad situation,” he said.

Fritz will start at left-tackle for this afternoon’s East Division semifinal against Winnipeg because of a torn patella tendon suffered by Skip Seagraves. Seagraves was replacing Josh Bourke, who tore ligaments in his knee. Fritz has never played left-tackle. Indeed, he has played only sparingly in two of the last seven games, after management decided to go with Dave Mudge at right-tackle.

That hasn’t sat well with Fritz, a proud individual.

“People get caught up in the pithy fights,” he explained. “This is a business. If you don’t do your job, someone else will. That goes both ways, and you can’t take it personally. Of course it upsets me to think I wasn’t one of the starting five. You can’t question yourself and your abilities. I can play – and play at a high level. I just need a team and a coach to believe in me.”

Fritz probably wants to play for another team next year, if he’s not going to play in Montreal. But he remains a pawn in this game. He’s under contract, and with both Seagraves and Bourke coming off serious injuries, the Als might be loath to part ways with Fritz, owed two offseason signing bonuses this winter; the first coming Jan. 1.

“I’m good enough to start regularly,” he said. “They made their decision. I don’t have a decision, because I’m under contract. It’s about the team now, but in the offseason, I hope it’ll be about me.”

It will be today. The Bombers are ferocious and tenacious, and Fritz will be challenged blocking Tom Canada or Gavin Walls. It’s a potential recipe for disaster.

“I have to play at a high level very fast,” he admitted. “There are no options. I know how well I’ve got to play. If I give them an inch, they’ll take it. I’ve got to be at the top of my game. They’re two of the best, both physical and fast.”