Argos' Barker wants more out of rookie kicker

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 5:19 PM ET

Argonauts head coach Jim Barker has given Grant Shaw a message.

The rookie kicker has to be more productive for the Argonauts.

About all that might be missing from Barker’s edict is an “or else” addendum, but that could come if Shaw does not shape up.

Shaw, the Argos’ second-round pick (11th overall) in May, has made just 14 of 21 field-goal tries through seven games for a success rate of 66.7%. That’s worst in the Canadian Football League among active players, and the only man who had a harder time than Shaw, Alexis Serna (57.1%), was cut by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

“One of the things that impresses me about him, to keep him around even though he has missed some kicks, is if he misses one, he goes back out there and kicks one 45 yards,” Barker said. “There is something about him I have not put my finger on yet, (but) you just believe at some point this guy is going to be a special kicker in this league.”

Shaw has been putting in some extra practice this week, but the level-headed 26-year-old from Edmonton isn’t tossing and turning at night.

“I’m not losing any sleep over it,” Shaw said. “It’s just a matter of getting out there and doing it. It’s as simple as that. They know I can do it and I know I can do it. The coaches have been patient, and I understand that, but I have to be better.”

It’s about aim, not distance. With an average of 34.6 yards a field goal, no CFL kicker this season has booted them as long on average.

“Right now, his percentage is not good, and he needs to be better and I talked to him about that this week,” Barker said. “This is pro football, and there are a lot of guys who count on him. When we drive the ball down, we need to put points on the board.

“It’s a Catch-22. You don’t want to give up on a rookie too early. Mike Vanderjagt got cut three times before he made it here in Toronto. I try to give guys more rope than less. Grant is a competitor and he will answer the call.”

Webb ready

He does not know yet how he will figure in the offence against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Friday night, but Jeffery Webb simply is glad to be part of the equation again.

The Argonauts receiver has missed the past four games with a groin injury and is looking at his return to the lineup as a bit of a re-birth.

“I really don’t like the way I played in the first three weeks,” Webb said after taking some extra passes from quarterback Cleo Lemon following practice on Wednesday. “Dropping balls, I count myself on that. I want to turn over a new leaf.”

Middlebrooks out

The Argos will be without cornerback Willie Middlebrooks (groin), who had been day to day. Josh Abrams or Michael Grant will take Middlebrooks’ spot. Barker is keeping his fingers crossed that Middlebrooks and defensive tackle Adriano Belli (foot), who has missed the past two games, will play in the Labour Day Classic in Hamilton.

Ring the bell

Barker and his four captains — Jeremaine Copeland (offence), Bryan Crawford (special teams), Willie Pile (defence) and Rob Murphy (offensive line) — along with Argos president Bob Nicholson, will open the Toronto Stock Exchange on Thursday.

“I’m excited,” Barker said. “How often do you get a chance to do that?”

terry.koshan@sunmedia.ca


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