Rising to the occasion

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:00 AM ET

WINNIPEG -- Who will step out from the shadows to be a key player?

Who will play the role that Mike Maurer filled the last time the Edmonton Eskimos won a playoff game?

If the Green and Gold are going to win today's East Division semifinal against the host Winnipeg Blue Bombers, a relatively unsung player will likely have to step into the spotlight.

Maurer did it in the 2005 Grey Cup, catching four passes for 41 yards to earn the top Canadian award for the tilt.

Here is a list of five Eskimo members who could grab that role today.

1. Lenny Williams, DB/KR

Rarely makes headlines, but could be the feature returner today if the Bombers stay away from Tristan Jackson.

Williams is averaging 24.8 yards per kickoff return, which is actually better than Jackson.

The sophomore Eskimo was a returner for the Frankfurt Galaxy when it won the 2006 World Bowl in NFL Europe.

2. Andrew Nowacki, WR

The least known of the receiving crew, Nowacki is well respected in the locker-room for being a complete player.

In fact, he received a 100% grade for a game in the second half of the season from receiver coach Mike Kelly.

Against Winnipeg in two games this season he scored a touchdown and averaged nearly 12 yards a catch.

3. Taylor Inglis, LS

Edmonton kicker Noel Prefontaine is going to have enough to worry about today.

With a northwest wind at 30 km/h and a negative temperature, there's enough on his mind. "Hopefully (the wind) is just blowing in one direction (today)," he said.

What Prefontaine doesn't need are erratic snaps from Inglis.

Inglis had a rough patch in the middle of the season, including one game at Winnipeg's Canad Inns Stadium.

Field-goal holder Stefan LeFors is going to need perfect snaps with a cold - possibly slick - ball to give Prefontaine a good chance.

If Inglis delivers an 'A' game, he'll deserve credit.

4. Chris Ciezki, ST

Fifth in the CFL for special teams tackles (24) this year, the rookie will have to help keep Winnipeg returner Jason Armstead under control.

In Winnipeg on Sept. 26, Armstead had a ridiculous 150 yards on four punt returns and scored a touchdown against Edmonton.

In the same game Ciezki was clocked on a wicked block that sent him flying through the air for his worst hit in the CFL.

5. Rick Worman, oC

While not on the field, Worman could play a massive role if he calls the right offensive plays - with head coach Danny Maciocia - at the right time for quarterback Ricky Ray in a howling wind.

This marks Worman's first playoff game in the CFL since he left Winnipeg as the Bombers' offensive co-ordinator in 2001.

Winnipeg went 14-4 in the regular season and won the East Final at home against Hamilton on a cold day.

"It came down to our defence stopping them and us coming back to score to clinch the victory," remembered Worman.

The Bombers lost the 2001 Grey Cup to Calgary.


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