Best foot forward

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:27 AM ET

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have secured a home playoff game for the first time since 2003 -- and now they're looking for a new kicker with two games left in the regular season.

The Bombers can finish no worse than second in the East Division after Toronto beat Montreal 16-9 yesterday afternoon. The Bombers (9-6-1) have a one-point lead on the Argos (9-7) going into their huge clash on Saturday in Toronto.

Winnipeg will clinch first spot in the East if it beats Toronto at Rogers Centre.

Before that, however, the Bombers will audition one or two new placekickers at practice this week.

GM Brendan Taman's goal is to have at least one import kicker at practice on Tuesday, but if he can find one in time for tomorrow's workout, all the better.

Taman wouldn't name which kickers he is going after, but he said they do not include former NFLers Mike Vanderjagt or Mitch Berger.

Regardless of whom the Bombers sign, Rob Pikula and Troy Westwood will both still get to compete for the job.

"I cannot stress enough how important practice can be," Taman said. "You gotta go out and earn the confidence of the coaching staff. It's not just going to be given to them."

Pikula missed two of three field goal attempts in Friday's 27-13 win over the Calgary Stampeders, and he left the field to a chorus of boos when he failed to hit a 39-yarder late in the fourth quarter.

"Nobody in this organization wants to be in this position, but we are," Taman said. "No one is anti-Rob or anti-Troy. We just gotta make field goals."

DISMAL

That's something the Bombers aren't doing right now, and their dismal field goal numbers would make any coach cringe.

Pikula is 10-for-16 (62.5%), while Westwood is 16-for-27 (59.3%).

Together, they are a woeful 3-for-13 from 40 yards or longer this season.

"Both these kickers are around 60% right now, and it's not going to win a Grey Cup when you're relying on a field goal kicker who's doing 60% work for you," head coach Doug Berry said.

"We've gotta be with the best kickers in the league. We gotta be finding guys that can do the 80-85%, which the top three kickers in the league are doing, at least since I've been keeping watch since I've been a head coach over these last two years. We're not even close to that."

Pikula, who will continue to be the team's punter regardless, had a horrible week of practice last week, but Westwood, 40, was just as bad and failed to unseat the 25-year-old CFL sophomore.

Westwood, who has been a healthy scratch for three games in a row, will get another chance to get his job back this week, but he won't have only Pikula to worry about.

"It's going to be a competition to give the coaches a chance to pick the best guy," Taman said. "It could be Rob Pikula, it could be Troy Westwood, it could be Joe X.

"... Unfortunately with an import, we would have to make roster changes. But the bottom line is we gotta make field goals, and it starts in practice."


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