Ryan ready to boot 'em

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 10:12 AM ET

The man with the bionic leg hopes to be kicking up a fuss down south the next few weeks.

Jon Ryan, who set a CFL record for punting average in Winnipeg last season, will be showing his wares to NFL shoppers. In fact, he plans to send balls soaring for the Green Bay Packers on Monday and for the Cincinnati Bengals on Jan. 20. And those are just two of at least five potential destinations for the Canuck kicker who becomes a CFL free agent on Feb. 15.

"Things are just starting to get going," Ryan said from his Phoenix, Ariz., hotel room yesterday. "There are at least four or five teams who have expressed some interest and want to bring me in right now."

Ryan, 24, has completely recovered from a season-ending injury to his left ankle and is ready to lift balls to the sky.

"It took longer than I wanted it to, but it's pretty much 100% right now," he said.

Although Ryan drew interest with the way he booted the ball for the Blue Bombers, he knows he must wow NFL scouts.

"I'll definitely have to perform well in the workouts down here to get enough interest from teams in terms of getting a contract offer," said the 6-foot, 220-pound Regina native. "But I don't want to go into a situation just to put pressure on the No. 1 guy. I want a fair look. I want a good shot to make the team.

"A good signing bonus would indicate how interested they are."

Troy Westwood, who had handled both placekicking and punting duties before Ryan arrived, has offered some words of wisdom.

"Troy went down and had some tryouts about 10 years ago, and he had some advice on how to handle things," Ryan said.

But that does not mean that Westwood has been lining up workouts for him so he can get both jobs back.

If the NFL does not work out for Ryan, he would be willing to listen to offers from other CFL teams.

"Being a free agent, you'd have to consider all of your offers," he said. "But (Winnipeg GM) Brendan (Taman) put a pretty fair offer on the table, and it's still there. So, if I came back to the CFL, it would likely be back to Winnipeg."

Taman, who left on a scouting trip yesterday, has not returned messages left the last two days.

Ryan is not the only significant Bomber on the verge of becoming a free agent next month. The others include kick returner/receiver Keith Stokes, defensive end Tom Canada, receiver Jamie Stoddard and linebacker Neil McKinlay.

HASHMARKS: The CFL released a list of players who are about to become free agents in February, and you can bet that Taman has the names of B.C. LB Barrin Simpson and Montreal LB D.J. Johnson on speed dial ... Other intriguing names include Ottawa CB Korey Banks, Hamilton CB Wayne Shaw, Edmonton WR Jason Tucker, Edmonton DB Shannon Garrett and B.C. OL Bobby Singh ... Montreal has hired John Kropke as its defensive line coach, the same position he held in Winnipeg last season ... Preliminaries for the Blue Lightning Dance Team tryouts go at the Blue and Gold Room, noon-5 p.m., on Jan. 29. Call the club for more info at 204-784-2583.


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