Fleming is playing follow the leader

GERRY PRINCE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:57 AM ET

After a rocky start, Eskimos kicker Sean Fleming has found his groove.

A misaligned pelvis played havoc with Fleming's field-goal kicking early in the year and head coach Tom Higgins's preoccupation with field position has knocked a few points off his punting average.

But despite Fleming's struggles that saw him missing chip-shot field goals with alarming regularity, the 13-year veteran is currently leading the CFL scoring race with 164 points.

"A lot of times you're leading in scoring when your team is a lot higher in the standings," he said. "I've had a lot of decent opportunities and we've scored a lot of touchdowns. We haven't been able to convert it to wins."

With one regular-season game remaining, Fleming has a four-point lead over Saskatchewan's Paul McCallum. B.C.'s Duncan O'Mahony is seven back of the CFL scoring lead.

According to league records, Fleming led the Western Division in scoring in 1997 but has yet to lay claim to the CFL scoring title.

Not that it means much to the 34-year-old, who has been good on 33 of 43 three-point attempts this season, with his most notable miss on the 51-yarder off the crossbar in an overtime loss to B.C. last month.

"Winning the scoring really doesn't mean much at all to me," he said. "I'm concerned about field goal percentage and what my punting average is. You can go 50 for 100 field goals and win the scoring title, but you're only 50%. Considering the start I had, I'd be satisfied if I could get a few more and go 80%, which is what I've done the last three or four years."

Currently, Fleming's net yards punting average of 34.2 is second-last in the league.

- - -

Interim Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Jim Daley is bringing his troops to town a day earlier than normal.

Ordinarily, the Blue Bombers would arrive in town Saturday for a Sunday game. But in an attempt to get them used to Edmonton's winter-like conditions Daley and Co. are now slated to practise here tomorrow morning.

Winnipeg needs to win its final two games to clinch a playoff spot, while a loss to Edmonton would dash any post-season aspirations.

"I'm not sure that you can acclimatize yourself in week of being here," offered Higgins. "They'll be in a day early, which goes to show how important it is."

- - -

Receiver Ed Hervey, defensive lineman Randy Spencer and defensive back Harold Nash were relegated to observer status at Eskimos practice yesterday. Hervey is coming off a knee injury and hyperextended the knee in Sunday's loss at Taylor Field. Spencer is nursing a sore shoulder, while Nash was feeling dizzy prior to the workout.


Photos