Alouettes’ Tyson Philpot wants to be elite, not just for a Canadian

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“He’s a guy that shows up every single day,” GM Maciocia says of Philpot, who scored two touchdowns in Montreal’s opening game.

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While it doesn’t compare with scoring the Grey Cup game-winning touchdown, Tyson Philpot’s performance in last Thursday’s opening-game victory at Winnipeg undoubtedly ranks a close second.

The Alouettes’ speedy Canadian receiver caught 10 passes for 141 yards. After scoring the final touchdown of the 2023 season, Philpot registered Montreal’s first score, 10 minutes into the game on a 14-yard pass from quarterback Cody Fajardo. He also scored the Als’ final touchdown at 6:30 of the fourth quarter, wide open on an electrifying 76-yard flea-flicker.

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“With everyone talking about the Grey Cup catch and, as an encore, saying what am I going to do this season, it couldn’t have been any better to have that kind of game, especially against the team we just beat in the Grey Cup,” Philpot told The Gazette by telephone this week.

“I treated the game and the week like any other. I got myself mentally prepared and studied the opponent, like any other game.”

Already in his third season but still only 23, this may well be the year in which Philpot establishes himself as one of the CFL’s premier receivers. The fact he’s a non-import and ratio changer — one of the Als’ two starting Canadian receivers, along with Kaion Julien-Grant — adds value to the team’s composition.

Selected in the first round (ninth overall) in 2022 out of the University of Calgary, the 6-foot-1, 195-pound Philpot has become more productive with each season. He caught 39 passes for 459 yards as a rookie while scoring two touchdowns. In 2023, limited to 13 games due to injuries at training camp, he caught 47 passes for 532 yards, adding five touchdowns. His most productive game came in mid-September, against Toronto, when he caught nine passes for 105 yards.

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“Obviously he’s good. I’m not telling you anything you don’t know,” said general manager Danny Maciocia, responsible for drafting Philpot. “He’s going to keep producing as long as he keeps doing what he does and we provide him with the tools to do so. He’s a guy that shows up every single day. He doesn’t have that ‘here I am’ status; ‘I can afford to take a day or two off.’ He comes to work every single day. That works for all of us.”

The Als have a void at the position after Austin Mack, their leading receiver, signed with the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons. And now the team will be without Tyler Snead for several weeks after he suffered a lower-body injury against the Blue Bombers. Montreal will be counting on Philpot, among others, to a greater extent now. And he appears ready for the challenge and responsibility.

“I knew going into this season, obviously, with the departure of Austin Mack and an opening in the receiving corps, (there was a need) for somebody to step up and try to be the guy this year. That was a possibility,” said Philpot, who speaks with Mack on a regular basis. “I’ve always wanted to establish myself as a 1,000-yard receiver. That’s the pinnacle, the mark that you start to call a player elite. It’s a definite goal. The first is to stay healthy. The second goal is to be consistent. I want to establish myself as being one of those guys.”

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Philpot caught six passes for 63 yards in the Als’ come-from-behind 28-24 Cup victory against Winnipeg, including the 19-yard winning score with 13 seconds remaining in regulation, capping a heart-stopping seven-play, 83-yard drive. He was named the game’s most valuable Canadian. Should he continue producing 100-yard efforts, Philpot will be in the mix for the CFL’s outstanding Canadian award — for which Als safety Marc-Antoine Dequoy was the East Division nominee in 2023.

Philpot, from Delta, B.C., is proud of his Canadian status and sees no reason why non-imports can’t be considered among the league’s elite players.

“I’m trying to show the media and other people a Canadian can be the No. 1 receiver, too, no matter what the ratio says,” he stated. “It’s something that I stand for. Something that I tell others. I’m proud to be a Canadian. Proud to have a lasting impact on guys that are watching, young Canadians and guys that have been in the league. I definitely think it’s something more special for me.”

Philpot, the division’s outstanding rookie in 2022, worked out that winter for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but wasn’t offered a contract and hasn’t had any inquiries since from the NFL. While that surprises him and he hopes that window hasn’t closed, Philpot said an exclusive CFL career remains a viable option. His Montreal contract expires following the 2025 season.

hzurkowsky@postmedia.com

twitter.com/HerbZurkowsky1

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