August 11, 2022

Landry: Rookie Philpot stepping into the spotlight

Peter Power/

If it is not quite right to say that Tyson Philpot stole the show, it is appropriate to say that the Montreal Alouettes rookie receiver found his light during an impressive sequence during that show. And the glow of the big play suits him just fine.

With his performance during a Week 9 loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the 22-year-old grabbed the spotlight over the course of plays 87 through 93 of that game, ensuring that anyone who was not yet aware of his abilities and of his promise certainly is now.

On three plays, within two minutes of game time, it was entirely clear just why the Alouettes selected him, ninth overall, in last May’s draft.

» Bio: Tyson Philpot by the numbers
» Landry’s 5 takeaways from Week 9
» Prediction Time: writers’ Week 10 picks


On play 87, Philpot returned a kick-off 60 yards, setting the Als up at the Winnipeg 37-yard line. Play 90 saw him catch a 15-yard touchdown pass (he actually caught the pass in the backfield, at the 20) and then on play 93, he made a superb tackle on the ensuing kick-off.

Pretty fair trifecta.

“I think my favourite play out of all three was actually the tackle,” said Philpot, assessing the sequence. “Just showing everyone that I’m dynamic and more than just a receiver that can catch the ball,” he said.

Philpot is endeavouring to show all that he can be wherever he can, whether it’s in running pass routes or working hard on specials. “It’s something my mom and dad instilled in me as a young kid, which is to work hard,” said the native of North Delta, B.C. “While I’m out there I take advantage of every play.”

While the special teams tackle might be Philpot’s favourite, it might not have popped so much for observers had he not shown off his other special abilities – the ones he was drafted for – immediately prior to it.

The speed and the shiftiness. That’s what got Philpot drafted, not to mention the good hands.

While with the University of Calgary Dinos, Philpot caught 77 passes for 1,574 yards and 14 touchdowns over three seasons. The numbers are even more impressive if you consider that he played just two games in 2019, meaning most of his statistics (73 catches, 1,487 yards and 13 touchdowns in 14 games) came over two seasons.

Now, the 2021 Canada West Player of the Year bides his time and waits for his chances in a very solid Montreal receiving corps. He is learning each receiver position and showing his stuff on special teams, and not chiefly through his tackling abilities. He’s returned seven punts for an average of 15.6 yards per, and has excelled on kick-off returns with 251 yards, ranking him tenth in the CFL despite having only 9 attempts. His 27.9 yard average on kick-offs is just behind the league leader – and the man Philpot took down on his impressive tackle – Winnipeg’s Janarion Grant (28.6).

The Alouettes have asked Philpot to be ready to play any receiver position and that’s a challenge he has embraced, knowing it can help lead him to taking advantage of any opportunity that might materialize. He didn’t have to do that at the University of Calgary, focusing on playing either boundary wideout or boundary slot. Now, with the Alouettes, he’s been asked to know the playbook for the other three receiver positions, on the field side, as well.

“They just told me to stay ready at all five positions,” said Philpot, adding that he’s feeling comfortable with his knowledge of the Montreal playbook no matter where he’s being told to line up. “If anyone goes down or if something happens, I’ll be the next up no matter what the position is.”

That sounds like a heap of pressure and a double-heap of work, but Philpot has been finding the demands to be advantageous. “That’s definitely benefited me,” he said, “just knowing all plays and just staying ready.”

Another benefit comes from having teammates who are looking out for him, ensuring that Philpot is getting the information and the encouragement he needs as his first CFL season unfolds. Veteran receivers Jake Wieneke and Eugene Lewis seem to be taking a lead in the mentoring.

“Every morning, Jake asks me how I’m doing, asks me if I need any help with the plays, with the new stuff being installed,” said Philpot, who praised Wieneke for the key block that sprung him for his touchdown last week. “And Geno as well has been a big help for me. I’ve been taking a few reps behind him just making sure I’m prepared at that X spot that he plays.”

Philpot scored his second touchdown of the season against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers last week (The Canadian Press)

“So I’d say both of them have been big role models for me. I feel like I’ve been very good with the playbook so far, a testament to how good my teammates have been, which is helping me out.”

Philpot is seeing spot duty for the Alouettes’ offence so far, but if this keeps up, they will have little choice but to increase the young speedster’s opportunities in a game, giving him even more touches and more chances to turn on the jets.

In seven games, the young receiver has been targeted just nine times. He’s caught seven of those attempts, two of them for touchdowns. And get this: Of his 108 total receiving yards, 92 have come after the catch. In the early going, Philpot is showing that you can get him the football and let him do the rest.

So far, Philpot hasn’t been handed the ball on a running play in 2022. But you’d have to think the Alouettes would be wise to consider it, as it would be another way to get the rookie more opportunities to break big plays for them. While he was at the University of Calgary, Philpot didn’t see a single running play funnel through him in his first two years. However, in his final season, the Dinos gave him the ball ten times, with Philpot accruing 103 yards on those carries.

He enjoyed being integrated into the Dinos’ running attack but, frankly, he’s fine with any scheme that can get him involved. “Just getting the ball in your hands in space, there’s nothing more I can ask for,” he said. “I feel that makes me really dynamic.”

For a lot of CFL rookies, adjusting to the speed at which the game is played is the biggest challenge they face. Philpot, though, has already shown that his personal velocity matches up with just about anything we see out there on the field. What he says took the most adjustment – and it’s something he tries to stay keenly aware of – is the competition level, the consistency and the intensity.

“Everyone on the field, no matter what position they’re playing, is a baller and deserves to be there, rightfully so,” said Philpot. “So I feel like just making sure you’re a hundred per cent and you don’t take plays off would probably be the biggest thing.”

“I mean, it’s pro football now.”

Tyson Philpot has noticed that every opportunity matters. In taking advantage of those afforded him so far in his rookie season, he’s making sure that he’s being noticed too.

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