The Montreal Alouettes have a lot of roster decisions to make before the start of the regular season, and their pre-season opener didn’t help narrow many down.

Quarterback Cody Fajardo connected with Canadian receiver Kaion Julien-Grant on a 48-yard throw to open the scoring, and the defending Grey Cup champions defeated the Toronto Argonauts 30-13 in CFL exhibition play Saturday night.

Fajardo finished with 107 passing yards on 7-for-8 completions in less than a quarter of action for Montreal, which dressed most of its starters in front of 13,787 fans at Molson Stadium.

Otherwise, players were battling for their positions in the depth chart.

“Choices are what we're gonna have, we've not been shy with our guys to talk about it,” head coach Jason Maas said. "You have 45 guys that represent us every week and 10 guys are in practice roster. From there those are tough choices to make.

“But you want to have choices in this business."

Davis Alexander went 10-for-12 for 89 passing yards and ran in a touchdown. Caleb Evans threw one touchdown and completed 10-of-15 attempts for 92 yards while rushing for 32 in a battle for the backup quarterback spot.

"They both did their jobs,” Maas said. “They both led scoring drives, they both made big plays, they both efficiently ran our offence."

Alexander, who was the third-stringer all last season, believes he’s doing enough to have a chance of moving up the depth chart.

"I feel like I'm definitely making them think about it,” he said. “Ultimately, it's gonna come down to a decision from upstairs. I know I've had a really good camp."

Toronto pivot Cameron Dukes was 4-for-6 for 51 yards with one touchdown and an interception, picked off by Alouettes defensive back Nafees Lyon.

The second-year Dukes is expected to fill in for star QB Chad Kelly. The reigning most outstanding player is suspended a minimum of nine regular-season games for violating the league’s gender-based violence policy.

"We didn't give Cam a ton,” head coach Ryan Dinwiddie said. “I thought he did some good things and there's some things we can clean up. I was good with his performance.”

The Argos re-signed veteran Nick Arbuckle last week to add depth at the position.

Arbuckle went 7-for-13 for 93 yards before giving way to Bryan Scott, who threw 109 yards on 10-for-12 completions.

"Nick came in, moved the ball a little bit, missed a few and that's gonna happen. He's been here for about three practices. Brian was in there with some young rookies,” Dinwiddie said. “There's a lot of stuff that you can't really evaluate the quarterback when it takes 12 guys to make plays."

Ka'Deem Carey, the CFL rushing leader in 2022, ran 19 yards on three attempts in his debut in an Argos uniform.

Canadian running back Walter Fletcher ran 14 yards on three carries in the Alouettes' starting role with last year’s No. 1 option William Stanback gone to the B.C. Lions.

Canadians Jeshrun Antwi and Sean Thomas-Erlington are also in the mix, along with former Indiana halfback Stevie Scott III and Ohio State alum Mike Weber Jr., who rushed for 22 yards.

"Guys got limited opportunities,” Maas said of the running back situation. “They'll have more of an opportunity next week to show what they can do."

Montreal’s Charleston Rambo led all receivers with 71 yards on four receptions.

Veteran defensive lineman Shawn Lemon took the field on defence for Montreal despite facing a sports-gambling suspension.

Lemon is appealing an indefinite ban from the league for betting on games, including one he played in, and is eligible to resume practising and playing until an arbitrator renders a decision.

Montreal kicker David Cote completed both his field-goal attempts, including a 50-yarder, and backup Jose Maltos was 1-for-1. Alfredo Gachuz Lozada went 2-for-2 for the Argos.

After Julien-Grant scored at 11:01 in the first quarter, the Argonauts tied the game in the following series as Dukes found Justin Marshall with a 13-yard touchdown pass on third down.

Lyon intercepted Dukes late in the quarter for a 33-yard return, leading to Cote’s second field goal to give the Alouettes a 13-7 lead.

"I just put the ball behind. It’s gonna happen,” Dukes said. “Physical errors are something that we can handle and work on, as long as it's not a mental error. I saw what I needed to see, just got to put the ball a little bit in front."

Alexander rushed for a one-yard touchdown at 8:16 of the second quarter to make it 20-7.

Evans put the Alouettes up 30-13 at 6:39 of the fourth quarter by finding Jose Barbon for a four-yard touchdown to cap a 107-yard drive.


Alouettes: Visit the Ottawa Redblacks on Friday to wrap up pre-season play. Montreal opens the CFL season on June 6 in Winnipeg for a rematch of last year’s Grey Cup against the Blue Bombers.

Argos: Host the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in Guelph, Ont., to finish the pre-season Friday. Toronto entertains the B.C. Lions on June 9 to begin its 2024 campaign.