Two kickers, one spot

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:36 AM ET

Eddie Johnson and Justin Medlock have taken divergent paths to the Canadian Football League since they were born in California in the early 1980s.

But in the next 10 days, one of the Argonauts hopefuls probably will be handed an airplane ticket to return home.

Johnson can punt; Medlock can kick. The one who shows better at the facet of the game with which he is least familiar will be on the Argos' opening-day roster July 1 in Hamilton when the Boatmen clash with the Tiger-Cats.

"They are running neck-and-neck right now," Argos coach Bart Andrus said. "The difference is going to be their performances in the pre-season games. Both of these guys have been under fire in big games before and these two games I consider big."

Though Andrus said the possibility of keeping both Americans "is always on the table," the reality is that it's unlikely. Andrus wants one man to handle all of the kicking and punting duties.

"It's really difficult (to have two) with the roster size that we have," Andrus said.

Johnson and Medlock once were NFL draft picks -- Johnson in the sixth round in 2003 by the Minnesota Vikings out of Idaho State and Medlock in the fifth round by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2007 from UCLA -- but neither had much pro success south of the border. Johnson bounced through six NFL organizations after punting in 14 games for the Vikings in 2003, while Medlock was released after one game with the Chiefs and was a final cut by the St. Louis Rams last August.

They now find themselves in an intriguing situation: They are on-field competitors, but they're roommates too. When the footballs are put away at the end of the day and the in-class sessions with the Argos have ended, Medlock and Johnson head back to their room and hang out. Both view their competition as a friendly one.

"We have talked about it, but we don't go too in-depth," Medlock, who is dating LPGA golfer Hannah Jun, said. "But we've said that if they kept both of us our special teams would be pretty lethal. At the same time, we know it is a business. We get along well, and if we didn't, then it would be a problem."

Johnson, at 28 the older of the pair by more than 21/2 years, said he "would never" secretly root against Medlock. Yet neither is passing along tips to the other.

"This is different in that we're spending so much time together, but it's the nature of sports competition," Johnson said. "Neither of us is in charge of the final decision. You just grind away and hopefully good things happen."

What is clear is that both are ready to get between the lines. The first pre-season game tomorrow night at home against the Montreal Alouettes is the first exam, with the final audition next Tuesday in Hamilton.

"I'm getting sick of Groundhog Day," Johnson said with a smile, referring to the two-a-day practices. "It's going to be nice to get out in front of the fans and do something."


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