Some tough decisions

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:42 AM ET

Could Sean Fleming's wait be over?

After being a healthy scratch for back-to-back games, Fleming could rejoin the Edmonton Eskimo active roster for Sunday's game in Regina to combat the Saskatchewan Roughriders' dangerous punt return unit.

"That is a scenario that we are going to explore here," said Eskimo head coach Danny Maciocia, "but there is nothing concrete because there is more to it than just Sean Fleming. There is the rest of the make-up of (our) roster."

Saskatchewan's roster features Corey Holmes, arguably the best punt/kick returner in the league.

At 14.5 yards, Holmes has the second-highest punt return average among the top 10 return specialists in the CFL.

And he has the top kickoff return average at 30.2 yards.

"Of all the guys in the league he's the one that causes me the most concern," stated Malvin Hunter, the Esks defensive assistant in charge of special teams, "because he is always full speed. He's not afraid of contact. The best thing you can do is not kick the ball to him.

MIDDLE OF THE FIELD

"We definitely don't want to give him the ball in the middle of the field and have all that yardage at his disposal."

Holmes has already returned a punt and kickoff for a touchdown this year, becoming the first Roughrider to ever accomplish that feat in the same season.

He is also on pace to finish the year with 852 punt return yards. It would place him third on the team's all-time list for most return yards in a season.

Fleming lost his field-goal kicking assignment to rookie Hayden Epstein in late August.

One week later Epstein was handed the punting chores for the Labour Day tilt in Calgary, forcing Fleming off the active roster.

The former CFL all-star was a healthy scratch again last week because of the Canadian-American ratio issue.

That ratio will be part of Maciocia's decision-making process this week.

ENOUGH DEPTH

"We need to make sure where we are at with our Canadians and our Americans and make sure we have enough depth at every single position before we do anything," continued the head coach.

But Maciocia stated last week that Fleming "seems to be the better punter."

At the same time, Fleming - a 14-year veteran - added: "I think with me out there punting it gives us the best opportunity to win.

"I've been hitting the ball out of bounds, coffin-corner kicks - all the stuff they're asking me to do."

Maciocia must declare his roster no later than Saturday.

The Eskimos battle the Riders on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at Regina's Taylor Field.

SHORT YARDAGE: Dahrran Diedrick's situation is another factor in the roster equation for this week. The Canadian running back with an impressive resume from the University of Nebraska will be part of the Eskimo practice today for the first time.

He could be activated for Sunday, but if he is on the roster, he won't be the starting running back.

Ron McClendon will be the main ball carrier for the second straight game, forcing Mike Jenkins to watch from the sidelines again. Jenkins suffered a bruised foot on Labour Day and was scratched last Friday.


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