Westwood on bubble Blue release Fleming, bring in two new kickers

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers cut a kicker, traded for another and invited a third to try out for the squad on a wild Saturday on Maroons Road.

Troy Westwood stayed put, but it's not looking good for the 40-year-old veteran.

The Bombers acquired Canadian punter-placekicker Rob Pikula from the B.C. Lions yesterday for a third-round draft pick in 2008.

They also cut punter Pat Fleming and will take a look at American punter-placekicker Clinton Greathouse, who will be at practice today.

The only certainty in all of this is that Pikula, a better punter than placekicker, will be in the lineup for Thursday's home opener against the Montreal Alouettes. The rest is to be determined.

"Pikula will be on our team," Bombers GM Brendan Taman said. "How many of those (kicking) facets he'll be doing ... he could do all three, he could do one, he could do two. He'll be doing at least one.

"He's got the ability to do all three. I've seen him punt, and I've seen him kick off very well. How consistently he can do the (field-goal) kicking, we'll determine that in the next day or two. We're hoping he can do all three."

OMINOUS

Those are ominous words for Westwood, a 16-year veteran placekicker who is under fire from the coaching staff after missing three of four field goals in Thursday's season-opening 39-39 tie against the Edmonton Eskimos. His mistakes included a 42-yarder in overtime.

Taman couldn't even say for certain that Westwood will get a chance to keep his job this week.

"Troy is still here, but obviously he's lost some confidence with our staff, for sure," Taman said. "Will he get another chance? That will be determined this week. He will be here in practice this week."

Getting a chance to keep his job isn't up to him, Westwood noted when reached last night, but he badly wants that opportunity.

"There's no question that I'm capable of kicking much better than I did on Thursday night," he said.

Fleming, however, won't get that chance. He booted six punts an average of 49.5 yards against the Eskimos, although poor placement is what upset the coaches.

Pikula, a 25-year-old Brantford, Ont., native, played at the University of Western Ontario between 2001 and 2004. In his senior season he was a CIS first-team All-Canadian as a kicker and a second-team All-Canadian as a punter.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders released Pikula during training camp last season, and the Lions signed him to back up Paul McCallum. Pikula made six of seven field goal attempts (his longest was 35 yards) and had a 48.2-yard punting average when McCallum was hurt early last season, but he didn't play the rest of the year.

Greathouse played seven games with the Calgary Stampeders at the end of the 2004 season, but he wasn't invited back in 2005.

The 27-year-old was a better placekicker than punter while with the Stamps, but Bombers special teams coach Cory McDiarmid worked him out at a free-agent camp in Dallas in April and liked his punting abilities.

"He's coming in here because of Cory's recommendation," Taman said.

Taman noted it's possible the Bombers could go with Pikula as the punter and Greathouse as the placekicker.


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