The Montreal Alouettes are signing coveted CFL linebacker Darnell Sankey according to sources. It’s been a season of injuries for the Montreal Alouettes defense with linebackers Najee Murray and Avery Williams being on injured reserve following injuries sustained in Montreal’s 6th game of the season.
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Darnell Sankey started every game last year at middle linebacker for the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2022 before heading south to play for the Arlington Renegades in the XFL for the 2023 season. Sankey was a West Division All-Star in 2021 for the Stampeders.
Darnell Sankey was a beast in the XFL and was leading the league in tackles at one point early in the season before missing time due to an injury. Despite missing 2 games of the regular season Sankey still finished 16th in tackles in the XFL. Sankey made 47 total tackles (20 solo), 1 sack, and 3 tackles for loss. He also added 6 tackles (2 solo) in the 2 playoff games which ended with Sankey being an XFL Champion.
According to Pro Football Focus Sankey had the 5th highest run defense and pass rush grade in the XFL among linebackers. Defending against the run is an area Montreal has often struggled against this season recently allowing A.J. Ouellette to rush for 105 yards and 2 touchdowns this past weekend on 19 carries.
Darnell Sankey has played in 32 CFL games generating 218 tackles, 4 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and 1 interception. Last year he became the Riders’ single-season record holder for most tackles in a season with 120.
Injuries have been a common theme for Montreal especially on the defensive side of the ball. Montreal has both of their starting cornerbacks from week 1 on the 6-game injured list with Nafees Lyon sustaining an injury in week 1 and Dionte Ruffin in Montreal’s 6th game. More recently Wesley Sutton has missed the last 2 games after starting the first 10 at halfback.
Montreal has suffered several key injuries among their linebacker group. Najee Murray who was on the PFF team of the week in week 1 sustained a season-ending injury in Montreal’s 6th game against the Stampeders after being Montreal’s starting cover linebacker. Avery Williams has missed the last 6 games as well sustaining an elbow injury in the same game after starting at middle linebacker for the Alouettes. J.R. Reed had started 5 games at cover linebacker following Najee Murray’s injury but he to was placed on the 6 game-inured list recently following the week 13 loss to BC during which he suffered an apparent leg injury.
Williams appears to now be nearing his return as he was a full participant last week for Tuesday’s practice before being limited on Wednesday and Thursday.
We will likely be looking at a linebacking group with Darnell Sankey and Avery Williams at middle linebacker and weakside linebacker with Tyrice Beverette who has been a cornerstone for the Alouettes defense at cover linebacker. Beverette has played most of the season at weakside linebacker until last week in which he played cover linebacker.
Despite all the injuries Montreal has still managed to have the 2nd best defense in the East and 4th in the league allowing 299 points in 12 games. On the defensive side of the ball, there are many signs of hope for Montreal as rookie players continue to improve, Shawn Lemon’s recent addition at defensive end, Avery Willims returning soon at linebacker, and now the addition of Darnell Sankey. If Montreal can get its run game going and see quicker progressions and better reads in the pass game the Alouettes will be legitimate contenders for the Grey Cup this year.
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