Westwood wins job ... for now

KIRK PENTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 2:02 PM ET

Would you be able to describe how frustrating it would be to work at something for 17 years and then not have a chance to complete it while someone else does?

Troy Westwood sure can't.

The thought of his Winnipeg Blue Bombers winning a Grey Cup while he's standing on the sidelines -- after 17 years of blood, sweat and tears -- is what's driving the 40-year-old Manitoba native these days.

Being a healthy scratch in the playoffs would be like running a marathon and collapsing 10 feet in front of the finish line.

"I couldn't possibly verbalize how much it would mean to me to be a part of a team that is taking a good, solid run at the playoffs and in the playoffs," Westwood said yesterday.

The will to survive, the will to win his first Grey Cup after three losses in the CFL title game, is what inspired Westwood to win his latest kicking battle and get back into the lineup.

He will do the placekicking for Winnipeg (9-6-1) tomorrow in its crucial match against the Toronto Argonauts (9-7) at Rogers Centre.

If the Bombers win, they will host the East Division final and be one win away from the Grey Cup. And if they win tomorrow, there's a good chance Westwood will have contributed to the victory, which would bode well for him.

That's the scenario that propelled Westwood to connect on all 11 of his field goal attempts after Wednesday's practice. It's the scenario that prompted him to make almost every attempt into a stiff breeze yesterday, even though head coach Doug Berry had already made up his mind.

NEVER STOOD A CHANCE

Aaron Barret, the American brought in this week to take Westwood's job once and for all, never stood a chance, just like several of his kicks into the wind yesterday that failed to make it to even the goal-line.

Westwood, who has made only 16 of 27 attempts this season, keeps finding a way.

"It's really no time for celebration," he said. "All that matters now is Saturday. I'm just happy to be given the opportunity, and I want to make a positive contribution to the team."

Westwood won't be doing the punting this week, even though the stats suggest he should. His average last season was 42.9 yards (compared to Rob Pikula's 41.7-yard mark this season), and his net average last year was 5.4 yards better than Pikula's is this season (37 to 31.6). Pat Fleming will handle the punting as Pikula is out with an ankle injury.

Berry curtly noted earlier this week that Westwood is the backup punter, and while saying yesterday that Westwood "did an outstanding job this week" against Barret, Berry made it clear that the battle for No. 7 to keep his job is nowhere near over.

"I'm pleased with both of those kickers," Berry said, noting once again that it would have been tough to get an American kicker on the roster this week. "Either one could certainly be a kicker, whether it be for this week or the future.

"They both have tremendous legs, and this week the accuracy was outstanding from the distances that we were practising from."

That statement surely won't faze Westwood, who has has kept his head up and just won't go away.

"I'm just rolling with the punches at this point," he said. "... It's just been a bizarre year, but it's far from over and a lot of good things could still happen."


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