The quarterback carousel in Montreal has spun again, and Johnny Manziel is once again the next man up.
The former Cleveland Brown took the majority of Montreal’s first-team snaps at practice on Monday and will take over from quarterback Antonio Pipkin when the Alouettes (3-9-0) visit the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Friday.
Pipkin, 23, started the last four games for Montreal but threw four interceptions in a 32-14 loss to the visiting B.C. Lions last Friday.
“I think Johnny deserves the opportunity to play this week based on last week,” Alouettes head coach Mike Sherman said after practice.
Sherman also added that both Manziel and Pipkin “will probably play,” but that Manziel has earned his chance to see the field.
“I think [Pipkin’s] done a great job. He’s going to be a hell of a quarterback. He’s going to take a step back a little bit and catch his breath,” Sherman said.
It’s a natural competitive spirit that comes out of me that I hope I didn’t voice in the wrong way.— Alouettes QB Johnny Manziel on voicing his frustration over not starting last week
Manziel has played two games this season, both with Montreal, and has yet to throw a touchdown pass in an Alouettes’ uniform. The quarterback suffered an injury in a Week 9 game against Ottawa and was placed in the league’s concussion protocol, opening the door for Pipkin in a Week 10 clash against Edmonton. Manziel also missed practice time last week due to a stomach virus.
Despite the injuries, Manziel still voiced his frustration over not starting for the Alouettes last week. Manziel said Monday he hoped his comments didn’t ruffle any feathers, but didn’t apologize for them.
Non-committal on full-time starter
“It’s a natural competitive spirit that comes out of me that I hope I didn’t voice in the wrong way,” Manziel said. “I’m just a competitor as anyone else is wanting to get on the field, wanting to play, and wanting to compete.
“I don’t think I necessarily did anything wrong by saying that I want to play.”
Despite Manziel being handed the reins for Friday’s game, Sherman was non-committal about picking one quarterback who would start the rest of the way.
“I think we’ve got more than a couple good quarterbacks,” Sherman said. “Matt Shiltz is doing very good. Vernon [Adams] threw the ball well today. We’ll see.”
Meanwhile, Pipkin was eager to “move on” on his disappointing performance Friday against the Lions. Pipkin lost his first start against Edmonton in Week 10, but won his next two starts against Toronto and Ottawa before falling to the Lions Friday.
The young pivot admitted he had a bad game against B.C. but didn’t expect the team would return to Manziel.
“That’s above my pay grade. That’s not my decision,” Pipkin said. “I know I was coming in ready, I’m still going to prepare as if I’m ready to play. I control what I can control and that’s my effort, that’s my leadership skills, how I am in the locker room and as a teammate. I’ll continue to do my part to help the team win.”
Montreal has gone through numerous starting quarterbacks since the retirement of all-star Anthony Calvillo after the 2013 season. In 2018 alone, Montreal has seen six different quarterbacks take the field, including five different starters.
The Alouettes remain in the basement of the league’s East Division with their record, but only have one more loss than the third place Toronto Argonauts.
Montreal and Winnipeg last met back in Week 2, when the Bombers drubbed the Alouettes 56-10 at Percival Molson Stadium.