Kicking duel heats up

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:09 AM ET

Another punter blew into town yesterday.

And with that addition, Troy Westwood's hopes to both punt and placekick for the Blue Bombers again are fading fast.

Winnipeg signed non-import Pat Fleming, a free agent who punted for Hamilton last season, because the Bombers are determined to push American punter Chris Beckman.

"Troy was struggling a lot in punting the ball and we had to make sure we were getting somebody else in here that can compete," said Bomber head coach Doug Berry. "Knowing that Pat's very experienced, it's good to have his presence here ... I want to make sure we're putting the best people on the field and Beckman wasn't having any competition."

Westwood will still handle the placekicking chores.

The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Fleming posted a 43.3-yard average -- fourth in the CFL -- in 18 games for the Tiger-Cats last year. His net punting average of 37.0 also ranked fourth in the league.

"Pat Fleming is an experienced and accomplished CFL kicker," said Bombers GM Brendan Taman. "We expect him to add some valuable experience to our special teams units and to provide some competition for the other kickers we have in camp."

Fleming, 28, previously played for the Ottawa Renegades. Although he punted at yesterday morning's practice, Fleming was not made available to the media.

GOOD(SPEED) STUFF: Berry has been impressed with the performance of offensive lineman Dan Goodspeed, who has recovered from knee surgery.

"Whoo, it's like being back at the first five games of last year," he said.

"Dan's 100% healthy. I thought he would be ... I saw him in March in Tampa and he looked tremendous then and said he'd be good. But you're not sure until you see him out here and moving around. But he's been a real pleasant surprise."

WALKING WOUNDED: Although veteran offensive lineman Val St. Germain (back) practised for the first time, others came up lame. CB Robert Bean (shoulder), LB Toney Edison (elbow), DT Nate Davis (ribs), DE Brian Guebert (hip flexor) and OL Alexandre Gauthier (hamstring) joined DB Anthony Malbrough (hamstring) and WR/KR Albert Johnson III (hamstring) on the sidelines.

HASHMARKS: To make room for Pat Fleming, Bombers GM Brendan Taman 'de-activated' WR Adam Eckert, who is recovering from a hand injury ... Former Bomber OL/DL Eric Wilson is reportedly on the verge of signing with Montreal, likely to replace retired DL Ed Philion. The Bombers had traded Wilson to Saskatchewan but the import refused to take a pay cut and was released. Taman has no plans to contact Roughriders GM Eric Tillman to offer any sort of compensation ... The Bombers have sold a total of 17,127 season tickets to date.


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