Bart Andrus angered Justin Medlock with his choice of kicker, but now it’s Medlock’s girlfriend who has a reason to complain.
The opening-day, opening-play shoulder separation suffered by fellow CFL rookie Eddie Johnson, puts Medlock at the kicking tee for this Saturday’s home game against Saskatchewan. Which means he can’t caddy for his beau, Hannah Jun, at the coming U.S. Open in Saucon Valley at Bethlemem, Pa.
Andrus made the hair-splitting call on Johnson as his import kicker just before Toronto’s Canada Day clash against the Tiger-Cats in Hamilton, a 30-17 win.
“I was kind of making plans that I probably wouldn’t be here and I’d be caddying for her,” Medlock said yesterday after practice in Mississauga. “When (Johnson’s) injury happened, I looked up in the crowd and gave her a swing, like ‘I don’t think (the U.S. Open) is going to happen’. But I’m glad I’m here and not holding her bag and getting yelled at.”
Medlock thought he’d won the job after two exhibition games and lots of practice.
“I don’t know what else I could have done, making all your field goals and making good progress on punts,” Medlock said, adding with a laugh “maybe it was a coin flip, maybe it’s because J comes before M (in the alphabet).”
Both kickers are former NFL picks cut by a couple of teams and have a good off-field relationship.
“We both talked about that we’d probably be two of the better punters in the CFL, it just kind of sucks we’re on the same team,” Medlock said. “I felt I had the advantage on kickoffs and I could do the job on punts. I was kind of bitter at first, but you move on.”
Johnson was still finding it hard to get dressed with one good right arm yesterday, but the injury will not require surgery. He couldn’t believe his bad luck after his first kick and tackle attempt.
“At the last second, the guy got lower on me with his helmet and I hit him too high,” Johnson said. “I could tell instantly it wasn’t good. I hoped we could take care of it because we had no one else dressed to kick.”
Johnson was a sports medicine student, but fixing his own separation was way out of his league.
“I couldn’t have MacGyver-ed it,” Johnson said with a laugh. “The doctors (team physician Anthony Galea and chiropractor Carmen Stillo) all helped me. It took a couple of tries but we popped the shoulder back in. It was a different pain, not excruciating, but kind of gross.”
After running back Jarrett Payton was pressed into service with a missed convert and one kick, Johnson returned at limited strength, booting a few points and making one touchdown-saving stop by a sliding trip of the punt returner.
“I got some range of motion for punts and knew as long as I could get the ball off we had some sort of shot. I figured I could hit it at least 40 yards. I’ve never had an injury like that — it’s the reason why I kick and punt, but it’s all part of the deal. Things could be worse. I have a chance to come back in a few weeks.”
The change of kickers also means a change of holders. The left-footed Medlock gets Kevin Eiben, who used to hold for Noel Prefontaine before Mike Vanderjagt’s arrival. That relieves back-up quarterback Cody Pickett of working with the right-footed Johnson — but likely decreases chances of fake kicks.