Another kick at cat

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:26 AM ET

He got a reprieve from the football governor and veteran Winnipeg placekicker Troy Westwood hopes to make the most of it on a night when his ever-popular teammate will be chasing the CFL's all-time touchdown record.

Westwood was a healthy scratch for the first time in his 17-year career when the Blue Bombers hosted the Montreal Alouettes last week. He spent the past week not knowing whether his brilliant career was headed to the gallows.

Appparently, the hangman will have to wait.

Westwood will handle placekicking and kickoffs when Winnipeg plays host to the Edmonton Eskimos at Canad Inns Stadium today (6 p.m.) -- on Friday the 13th no less -- Bomber head coach Doug Berry announced yesterday.

"We've been evaluating kickers for two weeks now and this week, Troy was better than (Rob) Pikula in practice, so we decided to activate him," Berry said.

Most observers believed that Westwood deserved at least one more crack at proving himself. He had fallen out favour because he connected on only one of four field goal attempts in a 39-39 tie with the Eskimos in Edmonton.

"I don't believe it's anyone's rightful place to be a member of a team," Westwood said. "It's a privilege and it's ultimately the decision of the head coach whom he feels gives us the best chance to win. I would view this much moreso as a second chance than a privilege."

The pressure is still on the local lad.

"It's going to feel like a playoff game," Westwood conceded. "But in all games, there's always pressure. I mean, if you have a good standing on a team, then you have a bit of a leash for error. I do not have that leash for error. I feel like I need to be perfect or very close to perfect."

He knows that this could be his last kick at the uprights.

"I'm not going to consume my mind with the results of whatever happens out there," said Westwood, 40. "I'm just concerned about the execution of kicks and striking the ball well. What happens after the game, next week, next month, will happen. I'm just concerned with the next time I'm on the field to attempt to kick."

Pikula will still handle the punting chores.

Meanwhile, veteran Bomber slotback Milt Stegall hopes to score TD No. 138, which would be the most ever recorded, against the same squad that allowed him to tie the mark just two weeks ago.

"I'm not going to promise him anything but we're going to try our best," said Bomber quarterback Kevin Glenn, who hopes to play an integral part in re-writing that history. "Everybody wants to get it out of the way and get it over with ... Everybody wants to see Milt succeed. He's the kind of guy that makes you want to do good for him.

"He's about to accomplish something that may not get accomplished, it may not happen again. You may not see anybody in the CFL get that many touchdowns again so, we feel a part of it, just like he is. We're going to be talking to our children and grandkids when we get older about a guy that we played with that broke the record."

The Bombers, by the way, are hoping to keep their unbeaten string (1-0-1) intact while the Eskimos (0-1-1) are determined to snap their winless streak on a day associated with black cats and busted mirrors.

However, both sides denied being superstitious, knock on wood.


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