Owens Argos' special player

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:58 AM ET

TORONTO - Chad Owens wants nothing more than to be joined by about 40 or 50 of his closest friends in Edmonton during Grey Cup week.

No matter what happens on the field during the Canadian Football League playoffs, Owens knows he will be in the Alberta capital in a fortnight. Owens on Thursday was named the most outstanding special teams player in the East Division, and as such, is a finalist for the league award, along with Yonus Davis of the B.C. Lions. The league winners will be revealed on Nov. 25 as part of the Grey Cup festivities.

A lot — make that everything — has to go in the Argonauts’ favour if they want to be on hand to help Owens celebrate what should be a nod as the top special teams player in the CFL. If the rest of the Argos are there, it will mean that they had beaten the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the East semifinal and the Montreal Alouettes in the East final.

But the Ticats were 3-0 against the Argos in 2010, and one reason was their dominance, especially in a 30-3 victory last month, on special teams.

Owens was knocked around like a bowling pin that night at the Rogers Centre and that can’t happen again on Sunday at Ivor Wynne Stadium.

“Special teams is so much about caring,” Argos head coach Jim Barker said after practice at Holy Trinity Catholic in Oakville on Thursday. “The one team that we have struggled against special-teams wise is Hamilton. We had two blocked punts, took seven penalties. We have done things that we didn’t do against other teams, and we have to shore that up. I know (special teams co-ordinator Mike) O’Shea has been looking peaked this week because he has been burning it to make sure we get the matchups we need.”

Why was Owens ordinary against the Tiger-Cats on Oct. 15?

“I don’t want to point any fingers because there is really no need to, but we need to make sure we are all on the same page,” the 28-year-old Hawaii native said. “I need to do a good job of hitting the hole when it is there.”

Owens had little trouble doing that during the majority of the regular season. He led the CFL with 3,288 combined yards, 1,060 punt return yards and 1,216 kickoff return yards, among other categories.

Included in the East all-star’s accomplishments:

* Set an Argos team record for one season with 2,701 total kick return yards;

* Became the fifth player in CFL history to record more than 1,000 punt return yards and 1,000 kickoff return yards in one season;

* Had four kick return touchdowns, the second most in a season in team history.

Still, Owens doesn’t want to look around on the flight to Edmonton and not know anyone.

“It means nothing for me to be there and I am not in the (Grey Cup) game,” Owens said. “That’s the whole goal. I want us to be in that game. My focus is on this week and we have to go out and beat Hamilton.”

It’s not to say that Owens was not proud that he was recognized by voters that included football reporters and CFL head coaches as one of the most dynamic returners in the game.

“It feels good,” Owens said. “I just wish that the rest of my guys could be recognized as well. I let them know I can’t do it without them.

“It was a long year filled with a lot of big plays on special teams.

“I’m honoured. Hopefully I can go out there and represent the Toronto Argonauts well.”

Said Barker: “So much of a guy doing well is having fun. It’s a well-deserved honour, and we will see if he wins, but it would be hard for someone to beat him out.”


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