Critics run amok

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON

, Last Updated: 12:19 PM ET

Will the critics be quiet in Week 3?

Edmonton Eskimo kicker/punter Sean Fleming has been taking criticism - rather unfairly - from the national media to start the regular season for his field-goal kicking.

And the 16-year veteran was ripped on the post-game radio call-in show last Friday for the blocked punt in Vancouver that helped spur the Lions to victory.

"It just seems like it is the flavour of the week," said Fleming yesterday, who has quietly taken exception to the criticism, particularly in the field goal department.

Granted, he missed a game-winning 47-yard kick - with swirling winds - in Week 1 and a 49-yarder earlier in the game, which ended in a 39-39 tie with the Bombers.

The two teams meet tomorrow in Winnipeg in the third game of the regular season for both teams.

"If somebody takes the time to look at the last six years of the veteran players - what they have done over the years - I can pretty much guarantee that I am one of the top two or three guys - particularly dual purpose guys," said Fleming on field-goal efficiency.

Indeed, the stats show that Fleming has made 78.5% of his field goals since the start of 2001.

Only Damon Duval (Montreal), Sandro DeAngelis (Calgary) and Luca Congi (Saskatchewan) have better percentages - but in all three cases, each player has played no more than two years in the league.

On top of that, Fleming has gone through three holders in the last three years - Jason Maas, Jason Johnson and now quarterback Stefan LeFors.

But where the stats really show Fleming's worth is in clutch situations.

From 2001-to-2006, the Burnaby native is 17-for-20 in game tying or game-winning field goals.

Included in that mix is the 2005 Grey Cup, the 1996 Western final and 1992 Western semifinal.

COMFORT LEVEL

"For some reason, I feel more comfortable in game-winning kicks than other kicks," he explained.

"So, historically I have done very well at those."

As for the blocked punt last week at B.C. Place, Fleming wasn't at fault. Timed on his role in the punt, he got the ball away in fine time.

Rookie Calvin McCarty couldn't contain veteran Lion Barron Miles, which is why the play broke down.

FLEMING'S IRKED

So, it's easy to see why Fleming is irked when a critic suggests rookie draft pick Warren Kean should heal quickly from his quad injury so he can be activated to the roster.

"The reason why we brought Warren in was because of the future, not to get rid of me," said Fleming.

In his 16th - and likely final season - in Green and Gold before retirement, Fleming is hoping to go out with a smooth ride that ends with an ultimate high. So far, it has been an unfair rocky start.

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THE NUMBERS

Field-goal percentages from around the CFL 2001-2006:

1. Luca Congi (Sask.) 38/44 = 86.4% (2006)

2. Sandro DeAngelis (Calgary) 96/117 = 82% (2005,06)

3. Damon Duval (Montreal) 89/111 = 80% (2005,06)

4. Sean Fleming (Edmonton) 204/260 = 78.5%

5. Paul McCallum (B.C./Sask.) 222/288 = 77%

6. Noel Prefontaine (Toronto) 159/212 = 75% (2002-06)

7. Troy Westwood (Winnipeg) 220/307 = 71.6%

8. Jamie Boreham (Hamilton) 71/105 = 67.7% (2004-06)


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