Westwood working on his fade

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:52 AM ET

Troy Westwood is keeping his lips zipped. At least for now.

Yes, even as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers prepare to play the arch-rival Roughriders in the annual Labour Day Classic in Saskatchewan this Sunday! The placekicker known for stirring Saskatchewan waters with his "banjo-pickin' inbred" digs had more important things on his mind. Like trying to connect on long field-goal tries.

"I'm just keeping my mouth shut and doing my job, that's all there is to it," Westwood said yesterday. "I'm just going to put all my effort into making my freakin' field goals."

Although he has been contacting the ball well, Westwood needs to make adjustments to his plant foot and leg swing.

"Length isn't a problem, the ball just has a bit of a fade on me," he said. "Of the 10 field goals I've missed, I think nine of them have been to the right. So, I need to eliminate that and I'll do whatever it takes this week to make sure that's what happens."

Westwood, by the way, is not the only veteran placekicker battling the ball this season.

"I don't care who else is struggling, I can't struggle any longer and I can't be detrimental to the success of the team," he said. "I really truly believe that I'm going to be an asset to the team the last eight games and not a liability."

OUCH UPDATE: OL Matt Sheridan tested his injured knee during first-team drills at yesterday's practice and seemed OK. So did SB Darnell McDonald (hand). However, DL Doug Brown was still hobbling on the sidelines after testing his foot during practice.

Should Brown miss his second straight match, Jon Oosterhuis will replace him again.

"Making his first start, (Oosterhuis) played probably average," said Bomber head coach Jim Daley. "He needs to be a little stouter at the point of attack. Then, in terms of the pass rush, he needs to be off the block a little faster. He'd probably be the first to tell you that. That's not uncharacteristic of a person making his first start. So, he needs to play better if he starts this week and I think he will."

PROJECT ON TAPP: The Bombers are taking a look at OL Tyler Tapp, who has been declared academically ineligible to play for the University of Manitoba Bisons this year.

"He's got potential," said Bomber head coach Jim Daley. "He's a big, raw-boned guy. We will be looking at him in terms of next year."

Bisons head coach Brian Dobie advised the Bombers of the former All-Canadian's availability.

"He's 6-foot-6, 6-foot-7, 315, in that neighborhood, with great hands and feet," Dobie said. "Unfortunately for us, Tyler won't be going to university this year, but he'll be over there with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and hopefully, it will evolve into a positive for the Bombers and Tyler Tapp. Hopefully it will help beef up that O-line.

"They don't owe me a beer because they've done so many favours for me. But anytime (Daley) would like to buy our staff a beer, I know our guys will gladly take one."

STOKED: Bomber receiver/kick returner Keith Stokes yesterday proclaimed himself ready to go for the Labour Day weekend matchup in Regina this Sunday.

Stokes missed the loss in Hamilton to visit his ailing mother in Alabama. He's also been nursing a sore shoulder, which he acknowledges isn't quite 100%.

"After nine weeks, there's no more 100%," Stokes said.

The diminutive speedster says missing Friday's game was rough, particularly since his first start at receiver came two weeks earlier against those same Ticats, when he caught five passes for 139 yards.

"I listened to the first quarter-and-a-half on the radio," Stokes said. "I was screaming at the radio, so I figured I might as well just go and watch it ... and I'm yelling at the TV. It was tough to watch."

Stokes says his mom tried to convince him to leave Alabama and join the team in Hamilton.

"There's no way I was going to leave," he said. "You've just got to realize what's more important. It's all about your priorities. I ain't going to play football forever."

Stokes says his mother has recovered from a heart attack and his back home.


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