Return match a-brewin'

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:28 AM ET

Markus Howell didn't mind losing special teams player of the week award to star running back Joffrey Reynolds.

However, the Calgary Stampeders punt returner won't concede anything else.

"On kickoff returns, it's good to get Joffrey out there because he gets that first contact out of the way," said a concerned Howell. "Now he's threatening my punt-return duties. He has said he wanted to come out and catch some punts in the morning with me. I said OK for now but ..."

Howell has nothing to worry about for today's Labour Day Classic against the Edmonton Eskimos at McMahon Stadium (2 p.m., CBC).

While Reynolds will start out handling the kickoff duties for the third straight outing, Howell will be there at his job as the main punt and field-goal returner.

Reynolds took the weekly award during the 45-45 tie with B.C. for averaging 23.2 yards on four kickoffs. It could have easily went to Howell, who averaged 14.5 yards on four punts.

That included a 33-yarder, while he broke a 26-yarder against Montreal.

"I was injured a little bit early in the season and we had a lot of new guys who didn't know the blocking rules or schemes," Howell said. "In the past few games, it's starting to come."

The decision to put Reynolds on kickoff returns came a few weeks ago, and the running back doesn't mind the job, especially if the Stamps win the coin toss and receive the ball first.

"The first hit for anybody feels good because you get a feel for the game," Reynolds said. "It's an opportunity to give our offence good field position, which helps me anyway. I welcome the chance.

"The special teams coach monitors it so that if I get the ball a lot on offence during the game, we throw other guys back there. It's a pretty good mix."

Special teams could be key for today's Labour Day Classic, because Stamps co-ordinator Craig Dickenson said the Eskimos have consistently the strongest cover units in the CFL.


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