Kicker rusty on field goals

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON

, Last Updated: 9:55 AM ET

It's funny how life can turn out.

Three weeks ago punter/kicker Kody Bliss tried out for the Edmonton Eskimos in Louisiana.

With veteran Sean Fleming and first-round pick Warren Kean already coming to camp, it seemed like nothing would come of it in the short term.

But in the span of 24 hours this week - Thursday-Friday afternoon - life dramatically changed.

One quad injury for Kean led to one phone call to Bliss, which led to one frantic packing job and a trip north from Alabama.

But that might not be the most noteworthy part of the story.

Watching Bliss attempt field goals could be rather interesting.

A punting specialist at Auburn University, Bliss hasn't attempted a field goal in a real game since high school.

In fact, he only had three attempts as the long-distance kicker. He nailed one from 61 yards, but had a record-setting 63-yarder blocked.

"I have been doing punting so long I can do that almost in my sleep," he said.

"I like to break the phases down simply.

"Kickoffs is kick it far and get some hangtime if you can.

"Field goals - all you have to do is kick it straight. It is simple when you look at it that way."

To Bliss's credit, he knows he's going against a longtime CFL veteran in Sean Fleming after doing some research on the Internet.

"Anyone who stuck around for that long has to be doing well. I know he is going to be great competition and hopefully I can pick up a couple of things about the Canadian game," added Bliss.

However, Fleming won't be the biggest problem Bliss faces. His American birth certificate means he is facing very long odds in a position that traditionally belongs to a non-import.

"It might make it tougher for me (being American). That just means I am going to have to work harder to earn my spot," said the 22-year-old, showing a good attitude.

If Bliss was just a little taller, this Eskimos experience might have never come to pass.

Considered the second-best punting prospect in the recent NFL draft with a 46.1-yard average, Bliss believes his size might have been a problem.

"The NFL likes to have their punters around 6-2, 6-3 and I am around 5-11," he remarked.

"I put in good workouts everywhere I went (including) the NFL combine.

"I just knew it would be a matter of time before I caught on somewhere."

Going through the medical process today, he hopes to be on the field on Sunday for the first day of training camp.

FINISH LINES: Frustration has understandably sunk in for Kean while resting his injured right kicking leg.

"The idea wasn't for me to come in and change the world right off the bat," he said.

"We are all looking at the big picture. I am looking at a career - not a couple of weeks."

Kean was never tabbed to unseat Fleming this season, but don't be surprised if he sticks around the entire season to learn and get comfortable with the CFL.


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