Fleming takes big hit

GERRY PRINCE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:36 AM ET

It was a mismatch of gigantic proportion.

Sean Fleming should probably have got the better of diminutive Montreal Alouettes return specialist Ezra Landry in the opening half of yesterday's CFL fixture at Commonwealth Stadium.

Everyone of the 37,708 onlookers was holding their breath expecting the five-foot-three inch Landry to be carted off the field at some point after his run-in with the Esks' kicker.

When the smoke cleared, however, it was the six-foot-three Fleming who was being scraped off the field and suffering from back spasms.

"I'm not the best tackler in the world, but I tried to get as low as possible," explained Fleming, who took some heat for letting Toronto punt returner Arland Bruce III slip by him for a touchdown during a home field loss a couple of weeks ago.

"I haven't seen the replay, but from what I understand he got low, too. I don't care how small somebody is. If they're running at you as fast as he was, it's pretty tough. I stuck my head in there and tried to do what I had to do. So be it."

Landry fielded Fleming's kickoff following an Esks touchdown at Montreal's 18-yard line and dodged a couple of tackles on his way to the head-on with the Esks kicker.

"I know my guys didn't expect it and I know some of the guys on the Eskimo team didn't expect it," offered Landry, who returned four kickoffs for 112 yards and picked up another 28 yards on three punt returns. "I've been giving hits and taking hits.

"I tried to give him everything I had when I seen him. I could have went out of bounds, clearly.

"When I play mad, I'll be on my best game."

Esks head coach Tom Higgins had a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach as he watched his kicker lay on the field in front of the Green and Gold bench.

Higgins was flashing back to the night Fleming ripped up his knee of his plant-leg on a fake punt at Toronto's SkyDome three seasons ago.

Fortunately, Higgins wasn't forced to use special teamer Maha Atogwe for anything more than one punt, or press slotback Terry Vaughn into service as the place kicker.

"When I turned around and saw him laying on his back, I'm going, 'Ouch!' "related Higgins. "We only have one kicker that does all of our kicking.

"It was nice that it was close to halftime and it was good we only had to use Maha to punt once. He did a nice job. He got it away. But we were ready to put Plan B into place if we had to."


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