Out of Troy's control

JIM BENDER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:08 AM ET

The immediate future of the most celebrated placekicker in club history is hanging by a thin thread.

Or at least, by the performance of the man who will replace him tonight.

Veteran Winnipeg placekicker Troy Westwood will not dress when the Blue Bombers take on the Montreal Alouettes in their CFL home-opener at Canad Inns Stadium. That will snap his CFL streak at 279 games -- second on the CFL's all-time list.

Rob Pikula, just acquired from the B.C. Lions, will handle both the punting and placekicking duties.

Westwood, who remains on the four-man reserve, did not ask for his release.

"I am constantly, every single day, thinking of life beyond football," Westwood responded yesterday. "I've seen so many guys come and go out of the locker-room. I know it's a very delicate situation at the best of times for employment so, I mean, only a fool wouldn't think of life after football. I understand it's potentially closer today than it was a week ago."

And most players have been carried out the door kicking and screaming.

"In my whole time here, I've seen two guys leave the organization voluntarily," said Westwood, 40. "No one wants to leave this gig. It's just too much fun playing football and getting paid for it. Everyone's time comes at some point in time. (But) I still feel that I can make a very positive impact on a team and I still plan on making a positive contribution."

Should Pikula not kick up to standards, Westwood could get another kick at the uprights.

"I hope we win as a team and I wish Rob ... I wish him well," said Westwood, who will be somewhere in the stadium tonight. "I will continue to work hard every single day. I feel like I'm kicking very well right now and if another opportunity's presented to me, I plan on making the most of it."

After 17 years of service, Westwood stopped short of saying he deserves another shot.

"I don't know what's going to happen after this week," said Bomber head coach Doug Berry, who met with Westwood yesterday morning. "It's like I alluded to him at the beginning of the week that this is a situation that is not in his control at this time and it's now up to how Rob punts and kicks during this game."

Berry added that the decision to sit Westwood was based on both his 2006 results and his performance in Edmonton where he connected on only one of four field goal attempts in a 39-39 tie.

"I don't know that there is agony (involved)," Berry said. "Well, there probably is. I know that Troy is a Blue and Gold guy through and through.

"He's as loyal to this organization as anyone is, whether it be his attempts in performing or the way he talks about this football team. Troy still is an adequate field goal kicker for us or anybody else in this league."

Employing just one kicker allows the Bombers to dress an extra special teams player.

Pikula, 25, had mixed emotions.

"I have mixed feelings," conceded the 5-foot-9, 175-pound Brantford, Ont., native. "Troy's been in this league for a long time and I've got a feel for what's probably going through his head. But I've just got to keep focused on what my job is and perform (tonight)."

Yeah, he will be somewhat anxious.

"You have to be nervous," he said. "If you're not nervous, then maybe there's something wrong. But if you have a little nervousness, you're always going to perform a little bit better."


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