At the point of no return?

IAN BUSBY, CALGARY SUN

, Last Updated: 7:33 AM ET

For Markus Howell, the splits were truly the pits.

The Calgary Stampeders return specialist was having a great night Friday during a 36-29 win over the B.C. Lions until a third-quarter punt.

Howell fielded the ball and was near his own bench when one player hit him and another pulled his leg the other way.

He did the splits and subsequently suffered a groin injury.

The most disappointing thing is Howell was finally starting to develop good chemistry with his blockers.

"We were starting to feel it," said Howell, a nine-year veteran. "As a returner, when you have that, you always believe the next one will go all the way.

"Everybody stepped up and we got the win, so that's the most important thing."

In the second quarter against the Lions, Howell weaved his way through tacklers and found a seam for a 55-yard punt return, his longest of the season.

Two games ago against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, he was able to break one for 36 yards to spark the offence in that one-point loss.

Although Howell would admit he had a slow start to the season, he says the coverage unit is making his job easier.

"There is a whole new set of guys on the punt-return team and they are working at getting the scheme down," he said.

"A lot of them hadn't played in the CFL before. It took a little while for us to get to know each other, for them to learn my running style. Over the past few games we've started to come up with some big returns."

Howell doesn't want to miss the Labour Day Classic next Monday at McMahon Stadium, a head-to-head matchup against Edmonton Eskimos returner Tristan Jackson.

He will take some treatment in the next couple of days and hope the injury settles down before the team returns to practice Wednesday.

If Howell can't play, it creates some roster issues for the Stamps. To replace a Canadian such as Howell, a non-import must be activated somewhere else and an import would take over at returner.

It's a problem Howell is well aware of.

"I'm the only Canadian return guy in the league, so I'm trying to represent my country," Howell said. "The Olympics are still on and I'm wearing the flag for our returners."

In Friday's win, running back Joffrey Reynolds took the rest of the kickoff returns, while receiver Ken-Yon Rambo handled the punts.

Reynolds did a great job, setting up the game-winning touchdown drive by returning a Paul McCallum kickoff 44 yards to put the offence on the Lions' 51-yard line.

Getting the return call is something Reynolds enjoys, and he gets to reap the benefits as a starter on offence.

"Obviously, as an offensive player, you would love to start the possession on the other side of the 50," Reynolds said.

"On that last one, the guys did a great job blocking it up and, before I knew it, I was at the 50. We did a good job all night long. We were starting plus-35 all the time and that makes it easier for the offence to get drives going."


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