One kicker punted

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:35 AM ET

Another kicker is out the door.

Could Troy Westwood be next?

OK, maybe we're getting a little ahead of ourselves, but Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Doug Berry isn't exactly ruling out the possibility of rookie Sam Paulescu doing both the punting and the placekicking this Saturday against the Edmonton Eskimos.

Then again, he isn't ruling out having Westwood do both, either.

The Bombers cut import punter Brian Claybourn yesterday, leaving the kicking choices at three: Westwood, Paulescu or both.

"The thing that both of these guys will give us an opportunity to perhaps do is to use one for both punting and kicking," said Berry. "Obviously if we go with Troy, it gives us an advantage in terms of adding a DI (designated import), whereas if we go with Paulescu, then we'd have a potential non-import position. So again, it's something we'll evaluate all week long."

Berry said that evaluation could continue until Friday's walk-through practice, which is usually reserved for final game preparations.

Paulescu, a God-fearing 22-year-old from Los Angeles, was shocked at how quickly the Bombers sent Claybourn packing. Just two weeks out of college, he got his first lesson about the world of professional sports.

'TAKE ADVANTAGE'

And that lesson is: If you don't do your job, someone else will.

"I'm going to take advantage of it and do my best," said Paulescu.

Westwood yesterday got a chance to show off his revamped punting skills (he's had a few chats with former Bomber punter Bob Cameron recently), but his distance was nowhere near Paulescu's.

"Troy came in, and he's let me know incessantly that he's changed his punting style, so we looked at Troy today," said Berry. "He punted the ball at times very, very well and, then again, sometimes not quite so well.

"Paulescu did a really nice job punting the ball very deep, but, again, some of his punts were outside the numbers, which is not where we want them placed. But he has showed a real strong leg and ability to punt."

Paulescu also bombed field goals that travelled much farther than Westwood's, but both kickers made only about 50% of their three-pointers.

The bottom line is this: Paulescu's leg is stronger than Westwood's, but how will the rookie out of Oregon State perform when the lights come on against the Eskimos?

"There would be a risk there, so that's something that does get factored in," said Berry. "But, at some point, somebody's gotta try to give him an opportunity to do it.

"And I'd rather give him that opportunity in Game 3, 4, 5, 6 than in Game 15, 16, 17, 18. I'd rather know now than later."


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