Renegades yank Hank

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:10 AM ET

The Renegades' kicker of the future (they have to hope) will be trying to make an impression in Dallas tomorrow.

At the same time, their kicker of the moment will be doing likewise in Montreal.

While highly touted draft pick Shaun Suisham takes aim at a job with the Cowboys that is presently in the possession of a journeyman who is with his fourth NFL team since 2001, Mark Irvin will line up a few paces behind Renegades long snapper Marc Pilon in a key tilt against the Alouettes.

Irvin, a rookie from Gloucester with three games of pro experience under his belt, will certainly be on the spot at Molson Percival Stadium.

Not only is he in charge of taking all of Ottawa's field goals, converts and kickoffs, but he will now also handle punting duties for his first time as a pro.

CONSISTENCY PROBLEMS

Coach Joe Paopao yesterday confirmed that 45-year-old Hank Ilesic, who was brought in on the weekend when Pat Fleming was being fitted for a hand cast, is having consistency issues. As a veteran of more than six CFL seasons, signing Ilesic for this game would also leave the Renegades stuck with his contract for the balance of the season.

Ilesic, who played in his first CFL game as a 17-year-old in 1977, will be kept on the practice roster for at least another week.

"I told Mark he's not going down," said Paopao, asked what happens if Irvin gets injured. "It's not an option."

If by some chance he does, Plan B includes either receiver David Azzi or defensive back Da'Shann Austin, both of whom did some punting in college.

So did Kerry Joseph, who bristled when a kicking question was posed yesterday.

"I'm the quarterback," he spat. "We have a punter."

Paopao acknowledged his reluctance to endanger Joseph on third and longs, calling his QB the "emergency, emergency punter." As for a backup placekicker, Paopao mentioned Azzi and fellow former Gee-Gees receiver Darryl Ray as possibilities, though it's obvious he clearly does not want to explore them.

Nobody was kicking a ball between uprights during practice at the disgusting pigsty that was Frank Clair Stadium yesterday, but only because there were none in the ground.

City workers have yet to clean up after Sunday's Rolling Stones concert, from the screws and nails on the turf to the crooked yard-line markers to the VIPs' salads and cold cuts still on plates in the visitors' dressing room. Never mind all the wasps, it's a surprise that raccoons haven't moved in full-time.

Paopao, who was Lui Passaglia's emergency backup when he played in B.C., said his kickers had ample opportunity to practise their aim when the team was working out at Ottawa U this week.

And when it comes to punting, Irvin should be aiming at the sidelines and away from Ezra Landry, the Als' superb return specialist.

"It certainly is a bit of an art form," Irvin said of trying to punt the ball 35-40 yards and out of bounds. "But it's like asking a quarterback to throw long or an out ball. If you can't do it, you're not going to be a pro very long."

Irvin, who punted in college and two seasons ago as a semi-pro, likens doing the job in practice to a golfer who can hit them straight on the range but "when you come to a tight fairway (or a game), it's a little different."

Still, Paopao has a lot of faith in him.

"He has the eye of the tiger ... he has some balls," Paopao said of Irvin's confidence. "That's what I like about him.

"He isn't going to be the reason we lose the game. (The Alouettes) have got (QB) Anthony Calvillo. Our defence has a tough job ahead of it.

"I trust (Irvin)."

WAITING ON SUISHAM

As for Suisham, he's in Dallas to push Jose Cortez, a 30-year-old veteran.

In his first pre-season outing, Cortez was good on all three field-goal attempts, of 46, 37 and 44 yards.

"It's a waiting game," Paopao said of the Suisham situation. "You can't blame the young man. It's an opportunity. It's his dream."


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