April 12, 2012

Als’ McPherson champing at the bit

Herb Zurkowsky
Montreal Gazette

MONTREAL — In his continuing evolution as a quarterback, Adrian McPherson has taken the unique approach of openly talking to other pivots — current and retired — this off-season, hoping to discover what made them successful.

McPherson, heading into his fifth season as Anthony Calvillo’s backup with the Montreal Alouettes, has had regular conversations with Damon Allen, who spent 23 seasons with six Canadian Football League teams before retiring at age 44. When the Saskatchewan Roughriders held a mini-camp recently in Bradenton, Fla., McPherson spent a portion of one day with Darian Durant, the team’s starter.

“I’m using my resources,” McPherson said on Wednesday. “I don’t have too much pride that I can’t speak to them about how they did it and how they continue doing it. I want to be successful. I wouldn’t be giving everything if I didn’t reach out to guys who have been, and are, great.

“I don’t want to simply play 10 or 15 years. I want to be great.”

McPherson, 28, has spoken with former NFL QB Vinny Testaverde, who spent 21 years playing. He’s been training in Florida with Steve DeBerg, another former NFL pivot. DeBerg coached McPherson in the Arena Football League.

McPherson has been taking yoga classes in preparation for training camp and has been running track with a Bradenton high school team.

“I feel great. I’ve lost some weight, but look bigger and feel light,” said the six-foot-three McPherson, who played at 220 pounds last season. “I’m in a good place in my head. I’ve been able to find some (inner peace) so that I’m on an even keel. I’m there.”

McPherson has displayed flashes of brilliance since coming to Montreal and, like any other young quarterback, has struggled during his brief playing opportunities.

Backing up Calvillo, who became pro football’s career passing leader in 2011, has forced McPherson to develop patience — a characteristic that’s not always easy.

McPherson didn’t start any games last season. Instead, he was best remembered for replacing an injured Calvillo against the Riders in July and at Edmonton, two months later.

McPherson led the Alouettes to two fourth-quarter touchdowns against Saskatchewan, but wasn’t able to overcome a 24-10 deficit, Montreal losing 27-24.

Against the Eskimos, after Calvillo was knocked unconscious, McPherson immediately led the Alouettes to a touchdown and 13 fourth-quarter points in a 34-21 win. McPherson was perfect in that game, completing all six passes for 92 yards. He also gained 45 yards on five carries.

Entering the option year of his contract, McPherson’s loath to commit to any extension until it becomes clear what lies in Calvillo’s future. Calvillo turns 40 in August and himself is entering the final season of his contract.

“Don’t get me wrong. I plan on playing in Montreal as long as I can,” McPherson said. “We’ll play the season out and see what happens. In this business, you can’t guarantee anything. I just want to show the team that I’d like to be that next guy. They don’t have to go nowhere to get the next guy.

“I’m going to come in, work hard and push A.C. Whatever they ask me to do, I’ll do it.”

Several cordial discussions have occurred between general manager Jim Popp and Tim Fleiszer, McPherson’s agent.

“Few quarterbacks are capable of winning at the pro level,” Fleiszer said. “Adrian’s athletic and has a fantastic arm. I’m interested to see his prospects at the end of the year. We’re open to something, if it’s A.C.’s last year and they decide they want Adrian to be their quarterback of the future.”

Courtesy: www.MontrealGazette.com