Kicking duties split

KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:29 AM ET

Troy Westwood isn't quite ready to go solo.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Doug Berry confirmed yesterday that rookie Sam Paulescu will handle the punting, while Westwood takes care of kickoffs and field goals when the Bombers host Edmonton tomorrow.

Paulescu, who recently completed his career with the Oregon State Beavers, replaces Brian Claybourn, who was released earlier this week.

Westwood drew praise for his diligent efforts, but hasn't done enough to date to nail down both jobs.

"Yeah, (Paulescu) has a stronger leg and is more consistently hitting the longer punts," said Berry. "Troy still can hit a very good punt but he still mixes in a shorter one. He's working really hard at it and I'd like him to do both, but we're not there yet. Whether we ever get there, maybe we will, maybe we won't. I'm not comfortable having him go in and be our punter quite yet."

In other roster-related moves, William Fields replaces Gabriel Fulbright at defensive back, Val St. Germain is in for Marc Parenteau at guard and Albert Johnson III is in for Shockmain Davis as the primary return man.

Johnson will handle the bulk of the load, but will be joined on kickoff returns by Quentin McCord.

"You can't get too anxious," said Johnson, when asked about preparing to break off a big run. "It's not like when you're a shooter in basketball where you're going to get the ball every time and you're in control of the game. You've got to take them when they come, hope you get a good punt and trust the guys in front of you. That's the main thing."

Defensive back Omar Evans was a little banged up this week but got clearance to remain in the lineup.

"If I felt I couldn't go and thought that I would hurt the team, I would shut it down," said Evans. "It's a long season."

MORE FRUSTRATION: Berry is so frustrated by the number of penalties taken by the return teams, that he's considering taking the ball at his own 35-yard line after made field goals rather than attempt a return.

"I don't want to be a passive coach, I want to be aggressive," said Berry. "I want to be able to have kickoff returns go to the 45, 50-plus side of the field. But if we're going to consistently, more often than not, have penalties come against us, I'm going to play the percentage and say let's at least start at the 35-yard line."


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