Unforgettable debut for Esks kicker
By GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency
|Eskimos place kicker Brody McKnight, shown with his old NCAA team in Montana, had his first attempt blocked and returned for a touchdown Saturday in Edmonton's 51-8 loss to the Tiger-Cats in Hamilton. (QMI Agency File)
EDMONTON - Brody McKnight doesn't have the best of CFL-debut memories, but the Edmonton Eskimos are going to keep him around to make more, better ones.
Just how they intend to use the former first-round draft pick, however, is yet-to-be determined.
"Obviously, Burke (Dales)'s loss was huge, especially with him leading the CFL in punting average (47.2 yards)," said Eskimos general manager Eric Tillman. "Ironically, on a handful of kicks, Grant currently ranks second overall at 45.9 per punt, but it's still a skill he's developing in terms of the finer points, such as directional kicking, et cetera."
It was initially expected that McKnight would take over Dales's punting duties. But he was called upon to kick a forgettable field goal he won't soon forget.
"Like we said right after making the trade, we feel a two-man tandem is best for multiple reasons," Tillman said. "How (head coach) Kavis (Reed) chooses to utilize them Ñ who does what Ñ that will be a coaching decision over the next couple of weeks after careful evaluation.
"Grant could punt and kickoff, leaving the field goals to Brody. Or Brody could punt, leaving the other elements to Grant. But, asking one player to do all three is very challenging, especially if that one guy plays as aggressively on cover teams as Grant does."
Like Dales, Shaw is known for never shying away from covering on his own kicks.
"As many know, Grant was a Canada West all-star defensive back in the CIS," Tillman said. "That athletic ability is a great asset to our cover teams, but it's a double edged sword, too, which comes with obvious risks.
"Especially if you are dressing only one kicker."