Special teams anything but

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:14 AM ET

Last year, the Blue Bombers boasted the best punter in the CFL and the top returner of 2004 -- with uneven kick coverage and inconsistent placekicking.

This season, only the placekicking has been solid. Punter Jon Ryan defected to the NFL and kick returner Keith Stokes to Toronto.

"Special teams-wise, the game was not up to par," Winnipeg head coach Doug Berry complained in the wake of his team's 16-9 victory over the Argos on Friday.

"We have to address that. Our kickoff returns and punt returns, every time we have a return, we have a penalty. A couple of punts we wanted out of bounds we didn't get out of bounds."

And punt returner Gabriel Fulbright should have fielded some of those footballs on the fly. Instead, the Bombers gave up valuable field position. Kick returner Albert Johnson III is expected to return from injury and punter Brian Claybourn may be replaced when Winnipeg plays host to the reigning Grey Cup champion Edmonton Eskimos this Saturday.

NIGHTMARE RAY: Edmonton QB Ricky Ray led the Eskimos to an 18-14 comeback victory over Calgary late Saturday.

"I really admire Ricky Ray," said Berry, a former Montreal assistant coach. "He's beaten me twice in the Grey Cup. I have a lot of respect for him. He's a guy that cannot be flustered, he's a very accurate passer. He's a very cool, upper-echelon quarterback in this league. We'll have a lot to do when we defend against him."

SACK MAN: Bomber DT Ron Warner, who was converted from defensive end, recorded four sacks and three tackles versus Toronto.

"Ron Warner has basically learned the position on the fly over the last month and that's a credit to the coaches," said Bombers GM Brendan Taman.

"Ron Warner's obviously the most unorthodox force I've ever seen at (defensive tackle)," said DT Doug Brown, who had three defensive tackles and a sack himself. "He's just crazy out there. So explosive, so much energy. It's awesome playing next to him."

GAMBLE LOST: Berry, by the way, relished the fact that the Argos gambled and lost on third-and-one late in the game.

"I'm glad they did because Montreal tried it in the pre-season a number of times against us and failed," he said. "So, when they made that decision to go for it, I'm like, 'Go ahead,' because I don't think they can make it because I believe in our guys and they believe in themselves."


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