April 24, 2013

Alouettes kickoff new era at mini-camp


CFL.ca Staff

ORLANDO, FL — The way Montreal Alouettes head coach Dan Hawkins sees it, both his players and his coaching staff have a lot to prove.

On one hand, you have a large and fresh coaching staff looking to pick up right where Marc Trestman and his team left off. On the other, you have the players who – regardless of what they did in years past – will be judged heavily on first impressions.

Related: CFL Mini-Camps

Hamilton Tiger-Cats
» Austin institutes new culture
Mallett healthy and ready to roll
Video: New Sheriff in Town
» QB Brohm makes debut at mini-camp
» Images: 2013 Ticats Mini-Camp

Winnipeg Blue Bombers
» Garrett, Pierce reunited

BC Lions

» Lulay sits out final mini-camp workout
Lulay, Lions adjusting to all things new
» Lions offensive focused at mini-camp
» Veterans out in full force at mini-camp

Saskatchewan Roughriders

» New faces excited for opportunity
» Riders rookies hit the field in Florida
» Images: 2013 Roughriders Mini-Camp

Needless to say, Hawkins is well aware of the situation at hand.

“All of us are on the same page. We (the coaching staff) have a lot to prove to a club that has won and won a lot and have been a great team,” said Hawkins after day one of Alouettes mini-camp in Orlando.

“But they’ve got a lot to prove to us too, because although we’ve watched film and we know about them, all we know is what we see right here,” he added.

It seems like only yesterday that the Als introduced Hawkins and the rest of his rather large staff at a press conference in Montreal.

It was there that he not only presented himself as a person for the first time to the Montreal fan base and media, but also brought his coaching philosophy into the limelight.

“I’ve always been sort of an out-of-the-box guy,” said Hawkins in February.

“You can just be as creative as you really want to be and that’s fun from a coach’s standpoint.”

Regardless of what Hawkins has been planning since he first dug his teeth into his new position, he hasn’t had very much time to chew on his surroundings. The situation is one that he’s acknowledged from day one, which makes this week’s three day mini-camp almost fitting.

“It will be a short time, but we’ll cram in as much as we can and get as much done as we can and then training camp will be here before we know it.”

Regardless, this will be Hawkins’ first opportunity to really see the cards he’s been dealt. No longer will he be forced to look at his players on a screen; he’ll finally get a chance to scout his talent in person.

And despite the fact that the Als won’t be wearing pads at any point throughout the week, he hopes they reach a certain gear that best exemplifies what they’re truly capable of as a group.

“You can’t hit, but when you get to higher levels of athleticism, guys can practice pretty good,” he said.

“One of our goals is to be safe, but we want them to run around fast and execute. Guys can go full speed at the higher level of athleticism and still be under control, so it’s not so much hitting; it’s really the other execution parts.”

Underneath it all, however, the 2013 season is truly new territory for an Alouettes organization that for the last half-decade has grown accustomed to a certain method under Trestman.

Hawkins, only two months into this new gig, believes that mini-camp will b a chance to move forward and see what this group as a whole can do.

“I know there’s great culture here; Marc talked about that before, but (mini-camp) will be a chance to get everybody down here,” he said.

“Mini-camp is probably a little bit different when you have a new staff. We need to kind of get going…so we’re going to go.”