Something special is missing

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:12 AM ET

It has taken 16 weeks, but finally somebody has stepped forward to admit the Eskimos are missing some key players on special teams.

"We need to get some demons on our team and we just don't have that right now," said punter/kicker Sean Fleming. "We have got some issues on special teams.

"We have got a lot of guys hurt and we are not performing well."

After being the most dangerous returner in the CFL last year, Tony Tompkins can barely find a crease to gain a few yards this year.

Of the top 11 punt returners in the league, Tompkins has the lowest return average at just 5.9 yards.

Bashir Levingston (Toronto), Jason Armstead (Saskatchewan), Marcus Howell (Calgary) and DaVon Fowlkes (Hamilton) all have an average that is nearly double Tompkins's.

On coverage units, Edmonton was very solid on punts until visiting Hamilton two weeks ago, when Fowlkes easily romped for an 86-yard TD.

That came on the heels of Edmonton giving up a 90-yard major on a J.R. Ruffin kickoff against Calgary on Sept. 8. To Edmonton's defence, in both games the club was missing special teams ace Mathieu Bertrand. Kelly Wiltshire and Will Loftus have also been on and off the roster this year.

Some remaining players are now publicly admitting the major holes left by Rashad Jeanty and Steven Marsh.

"Those are a couple of guys where I can think of certain cover plays in my head where they either blow somebody up or they get downfield 20 yards ahead of everybody else," remembered Mike Maurer, who is Edmonton's top remaining special teams player.

Understandably, the coaching staff isn't using strong words like Fleming.

"(Jeanty and Marsh were) outstanding to be exact," said special teams coach Malvin Hunter.

"But I'd say we are very capable on special teams - probably not as explosive as we were last year.

"But I have full confidence in the guys we have here. "Of course, you want a couple of more stalwarts ... but I believe we can get it done with the group we have."


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