Fleming finding form

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:34 AM ET

With groups of Edmonton Eskimos standing around chatting, Sean Fleming put his boot to the ball over and over on the cold artificial turf.

The veteran kicker has played at McMahon Stadium in plenty of important games but he still felt it necessary to test the swirling wind once more before the West semifinal today against the Calgary Stampeders (4 p.m., CBC).

Part of the exercise was to erase last week's performance, where Fleming missed on difficult field goals of 49 and 53 yards, and the other reason was to get used to a cold football.

"This is one of the places where I've always kicked well," Fleming said. "The last game was one of only two in my career where I haven't played well here.

"This is one of the great places to kick and punt. You have the high altitude and I've always felt I kicked well here."

History shows Fleming can be the difference in a Calgary game. In the 1996 West final at McMahon Stadium, the kicker booted the winning field goal with no time on the clock.

But Fleming's 14th year as an Eskimo certainly was also one of his toughest. After some early struggles, the club brought in import Hayden Epstein for a handful of games.

Epstein struggled as well and Fleming won back his job with a solid October in which he kicked 10 straight field goals and two game-winners. He was named special teams player of the week twice and player of the month.

Getting hot at the right time sure helped the 35-year-old's confidence and it showed yesterday in practice as the veteran sailed in a few balls from 50 yards out.

"This time of year is certainly difficult to kick because you never know what can happen with the conditions," Fleming said. "I've been through it before with windy games."


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