MONTREAL — The Montreal Alouettes announced on Friday that the club has signed four of its defensive players to contract extensions. Linebackers Bear Woods (three years) and Winston Venable (one year) as well as defensive linemen Aaron Lavarias (two years) and Scott Paxson (two years) have all signed new deals with the club.
“These guys all have a passion and love for the game of football,” said Alouettes General Manager Jim Popp.
Woods (6’00”, 245 lbs.) was a key contributor in defensive coordinator Noel Thorpe’s squad last season where he was the CFL’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player finalist. After missing the team’s first six outings in 2014, the 27 year-old athlete had an immediate impact when he returned to the roster and experienced his best career moments in the CFL. The Troy University product finished second in the league with 89 defensive tackles, including seven sacks.
“I always felt that if Bear could stay on the field for any amount of games, he could solidify the middle,” declared Popp. “Last year he proved that he is a tremendous leader and a real force when healthy. The last twelve games last season where as good as anyone has manned the middle in the CFL over the last few years.”
He was an integral part of a defence that lead the CFL with 47 turnovers. The international linebacker did not only excel at putting pressure, but also in coverage, picking off one pass this past season. The McClenny, FL native also forced two fumbles while playing on a regular basis on special teams where he made two other tackles. Woods kept going strong during the playoffs, where he recorded 21 defensive tackles, one interception and one forced fumble in only two games.
Venable (5’11”, 220 lbs.) made an impact on the Alouettes’ defence in only his second year, amassing 52 defensive tackles including a career-high of nine in a game against the Ottawa REDBLACKS on September 26. The 27-year old athlete recovered a league-high four fumbles, which he returned for a total of 59 yards while scoring a touchdown. He also recorded 14 special teams tackles. In the team’s two playoff games last fall, the San Rafael, CA native made five defensive tackles and forced two fumbles.
“Winston was cut out for the CFL. He is very versatile and can play Will, Sam, Safety, and even DB in a pinch. His physical nature can’t be taught,” affirmed Popp.
Lavarias (6’3″, 250 lbs.) has been an important part of the Alouettes defensive line throughout his two seasons with the club. Last year, in 14 games, the 26-year-old defensive end completed the season with 36 defensive tackles including five quarterback sacks, while recovering a fumble he returned for 30 yards before flipping the ball to teammate Chip Cox who crossed the goal line 55 yards later. During his two seasons with the Alouettes, the Woodinville, WA native registered 76 defensive tackles, including 11 sacks.
“He is a solid player with a real understanding of the game. His consistency and effort makes you want him on the field at all times,” continued Popp.
Paxson (6’4″, 292 lbs.) started 14 games at defensive tackle for the Alouettes last season, recording 11 defensive tackles and two sacks. The 32-year old also intercepted a pass, which he returned for two yards before handing it to Chip Cox who ran it the rest of the way for a touchdown. The Philadelphia, PA native and former Penn State Nittany Lion registered four defensive tackles in the team’s two playoff games last November.
“He is a true professional and a team guy. He is always willing to do what is needed to have success. He is rock solid and accountable,” concluded the Alouettes General Manager.