Alouettes turn to Ackie for defence

Photo: Canadian Football League

Mark Bryson
Waterloo Region Record

After two years of learning the ropes, Chris Ackie is determined to make the most of his opportunity.

The 25-year-old Cambridge native got the ball rolling on his third Canadian Football League campaign last week, helping the Montreal Alouettes to a 17-16 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Percival Molson Memorial Stadium.

Ackie started the game at free safety, a position he earned in training camp, and recorded five tackles and forced a third-quarter fumble. He was also called upon to play linebacker and special teams as the Alouettes began their quest to make the playoffs for the first time since 2014.

“The body’s a little sore after a long training camp and last week’s game but I had a couple of days off this weekend and I’m starting to feel a little better,” said the six-foot-two, 205-pound Ackie during a telephone interview Monday.

“There were a few mistakes, but I felt like I did a good job (against Saskatchewan) and the coaches said I did a good job. The game was a little too close but we pulled it out at the end.”

The Alouettes selected Ackie in the first round, fourth overall, of the 2015 draft after four seasons at Wilfrid Laurier University. He had played both outside linebacker positions during his first two seasons in Montreal but saw most of his action on special teams.

The decision to try Ackie at safety was made prior to the start of training camp in May. Longtime starter Marc-Olivier Brouillette departed Montreal after seven seasons and the versatile Ackie, who played boundary halfback in university, was deemed a suitable replacement.

He put in the long hours needed to learn his new role — in the gym, on the field, in the film room — and obviously did enough to earn the starting assignment when last week’s depth charts were unveiled.

And now he’s determined to make the most of his opportunity.

“We have a good squad, a veteran squad, with good leaders and good players, so I feel like if we’re going to do it (make the playoffs), this is the year,” he said.

“As for myself, I want to continue to get better every week, continue to make plays and help out the defence as much as I can.”

Ackie, a graduate of Preston High School, is also determined to get out and see Montreal as the city celebrates its 375th anniversary this year. Football consumes most of his time but Ackie said he makes a point of getting out and enjoying the city.

“There is always something going on, festivals, street parties,” he said. “Montreal is crazy.”

The Alouettes resume their CFL schedule on the road Friday night against the Edmonton Eskimos.

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