Another kick at it

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:24 AM ET

Charlie Hebert rehabbed his injured ankle just in time to start fighting for his job -- again.

The Calgary Stampeders kicker has missed the last four games with a sprain on his planting leg but returned yesterday to the heat of a new competition at practice.

With the Stamps officially out of the playoff race, Hebert and his replacement, Clinton Greathouse, will duel for the kicking job the final three regular-season games.

"This is just like training camp," said Hebert, who won the job this season over two other kickers. "It is a pain in the butt. You never want to do this during the season but it's part of the job. I can't let it bother me."

The Stamps' special teams could probably use a kickstart as it has allowed four punt return touchdowns the last four games, coinciding with the arrival of Greathouse.

Previous to Hebert's injury, no one returned a touchdown for a major against the Stamps in 2004.

"(My record) speaks for itself," Hebert said. "I've made tackles. Even that little guy from Montreal (kick-return specialist Ezra Landry), I got a hand on him and (Scott) Deibert came in and finished him off."

However, Stampeders special teams co-ordinator Trey Junkin won't put blame on Greathouse, who's done a good job in the another department, hitting nine of 11 field goals.

"(Clinton) puts a lot of hang time on punts, which makes people have to respect and work at the halo rule," Junkin said. "Every single punt we've had run back had nothing to do with the hang time of the ball. It came down to missed tackles and people not going to their lane assignment."

The punt problem is keeping Junkin up nights. Yesterday, the first day back at practice since losing Wednesday in Toronto, Junkin broke down film for his coverage unit and pointed out the mistakes.

"A lot of it is missed tackles," said Pascal Masson, who, along with Matt McKnight, is the first one downfield on the coverage unit.

"On those touchdowns, we touched the returner and just missed the tackle. We might miss a tackle once or twice in the same return and that's the problem.

"And after one big return, you play more on your heels."

McKnight said the turning point was the Labour Day rematch against Edmonton, where Winston October returned a punt for a touchdown in a blowout win.

That game was Greathouse's first as a Stampeder and wasn't the prettiest any way you look at it, as he also fumbled a snap for an Eskimos touchdown.

McKnight also wouldn't blame the new punter for the return touchdowns because the unit has had four games to used to his unique punting style.

"It's been a little bit different," said McKnight, who's hampered by a bicep injury and probably won't play against Toronto next Saturday.

"Maybe it's the confidence level of our punt team. Maybe we feel a little protective because we have had a few returns against us. It looks like we're a little hesitant to get down there and make that play."

When it comes to the competition, the numbers point in Hebert's favour. He punted for a 44.2-yard gross and a 36.6-yard net average before his injury, also recording three special teams tackles.

Greathouse has a 41.6-yard gross average and a terrible 26.9-yard net because of all the huge returns with one tackle on special teams.

But the decision on who plays won't come down to statistics, Junkin said.

"The numbers are a little misleading," Junkin said.

"Charlie had a lot of balls that were shanks that were getting real good bounces. Charlie has a real strong leg and he's coming along mechanically.

"But when (GM-head coach Matt Dunigan) turns the roster in against Toronto, we'll have to have a serious discussion about the kickers and who the head coach feels gives him the best chance to win a football game."

EXTRA POINTS: The Stamps signed import WR Corey Parchman and import LB Sheldon Deckart yesterday to the practice roster while WR Darcey Levy was released ... Toronto Argonauts QB Damon Allen resumed practising yesterday, eight weeks after breaking his leg against Montreal.


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