Someone gets the boot

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:25 AM ET

With all due respect to the late Frank Gorshin, famed TV Batman villain The Riddler of the 1960s, three guys at Stampeders training camp are also covered in question marks.

A trio of rookie legs will undergo trial by fire in today's intrasquad game -- PK Sandro DeAngelis, P Burke Dales and PK/P Mark Irvin. And while it remains to be seen who will have the last laugh, and the coaching staff insists each will have ample opportunity to prove himself, it is the most pressing question regarding the 2005 CFL season.

Although the young non-imports have been working out in practice sessions, game-type appearances today and in Tuesday night's exhibition contest against Saskatchewan will go a long way in deciding their fate, says special teams co-ordinator Craig Dickenson.

"It's very important because it's a chance to kick some footballs in a live game-type situation," he says.

"You'll see some live work and see them punting and kicking in game-type situations. It will be a good gauge for this early in camp.

"We want guys who are quick with their get-offs and are accurate."

DeAngelis, a Nebraska placekicker who could eventually develop his punting to include dual roles, has never played in the pros but understands reliability in game situations is paramount.

"The name of the game is consistency," says DeAngelis, who played high school ball in Buffalo but has roots in Niagara Falls, Ont., earning him his crucial non-import status.

"Every coach at every level wants you to be consistent from

40 yards and in," he said. "You're going to have bad days at the office but what separates a good kicker from a great kicker is that ability to bounce back from the bad days. We're not perfect and we're going to mess up once in a while but you have to have confidence to bounce back and make that next kick."

DeAngelis had a painful lesson in college, teaching him the importance of meeting expectations.

"At the University of Nebraska, unfortunately, I had one bad game and I was benched the rest of the year," says the 24-year-old, who has demonstrated a strong leg on kickoffs and field goals.

"That happened to me twice in my career, so I learned that lesson the hard way."

Stampeders head coach Tom Higgins has high expectations of his training camp kicking crew but insists the club will be patient in evaluating the young talent on hand.

"In his junior year, he missed an extra point and never saw the field again so he understands pressure but that's tough," Higgins says.

"When you put a gun to somebody's head, that's real pressure.

"When we select our players in any positions, we're not going to make knee-jerk reactions. All of a sudden, if you make one bad play, you're no longer good and you can't play here. One bad game does not make a bad player."

Today's scrimmage will also test the X's and O's accuracy of the men enlisted to take the field in all special-teams situations -- kickoffs, punts, field goals and extra points, says Dickenson.

"It will be good for all special teams because we'll be able to get the right guys out there and see who's plugged in on the sideline and see who's ready to go," he says. "That's the biggest challenge on special teams, especially in training camp when you've got 60-some odd guys making sure everybody gets reps and everybody knows when they're on the field and when they're not."

If the current crop of kickers fails to impress, the Stampeders might have to resort to a backup plan, possibly leaning on an import to handle both roles as was the case last season. But for now, the pressure's on the present group to live up to expectations and earn the two roster spots.

"We feel our kickers and punters will come from this group we brought in," Dickenson says.

"We feel pretty good about the guys we've got and we're going to continue to work with them and develop them."


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