Esks kicker, QB make huge hits

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:20 AM ET

It was the least they could do.

Edmonton Eskimos kicker-holder combination Damon Duval and Eric Ward both made a potentially game-saving tackle in last Saturday's 24-10 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Both came on missed field-goal returns against a coverage-carving Jovon Johnson, who had built up a head of steam by the time he was finally hauled down by the last line of defence.

"Unfortunately, you never want to have to go make tackles after missed field goals, you hope to make them all. But that's part of the game," said Duval, who went one-for-three on field goals. "Myself and Eric did a good job getting down and stopping them from making possible big plays.

"They had a great returner back there and those two tackles probably saved a couple of touchdowns, but I don't like the start of it. You shouldn't miss field goals to begin with."

After hitting a 46-yard attempt wide right in the second quarter, Duval hustled downfield to make his tackle 44 yards into Johnson's return to maintain a 7-3 Edmonton lead.

"I don't think you look at it that the pressure's on us because you missed it, but that's part of the job," said Duval. "If you don't put it through in this league, you have to be able to go on coverage, from the O-line to the snappers to the holders and kickers.

"We all become defensive players on the field at that point, so I don't think there's any more onus. Our job is to not let them score."

Ward followed up with a third-quarter tackle on Johnson after a 48-yard attempt also went to the right, but not before the returner chewed up 57 yards.

Winnipeg ended up scoring their lone touchdown on the ensuing drive, but the offence had to earn it.

"If they take those back, that is definitely a big momentum swing in the game and puts them right back in it," said Duval, who wasn't surprised at all at seeing the quarterback make the hit. "He understands that he's at that position and if I don't do my job and put it through, sometimes he has to be able to step up and be a football player, which he is.

"He's done a great job all year when we haven't put them through, of going down and covering well."

But for the third-string QB on the depth chart, any chance he has to get on the field and make a play becomes an opportunity.

"We're kind of the last line of defence on that one," said Ward, who led the Richmond Spiders to a national championship in 2008. "Every time it happens, my eyes light up because I'm pretty much preparing for it to reach me.

"It's a unique play, because any time the guy gets it he's got a chance at running back. We've got to do whatever we can to get that guy down."

IN AND OUT: WR Marcus Henry (undisclosed) worked out along the sidelines. Newly arrived RB Hugh Charles, wearing No. 7, worked on punt returns. After taking a scary helmet-to-helmet hit in Saturday's game, FS Delroy Clarke has resumed his regular duties on special teams Monday.


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