Long & short of kicking

SCOTT UNGER

, Last Updated: 8:28 AM ET

When there's zero room for error, you better be really, really good at your job.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers kicker and punter Alexis Serna and long snapper Chris Cvetkovic know this all to well. Each day in practice Serna and Cvetkovic only take a few dozen reps with their teammates, but they spend seemingly endless hours by themselves working on their trade.

"For the most part it's just snapping," Cvetkovic said of his daily routine. "I am one of those guys you're going not going to see me do very much. I'll snap at a garbage can. I'll snap at our kickers. I'll snap at the punter. I'll find a ball boy and snap."

OK, you get the picture. This guy really likes to snap.

"If you're on the field for 10-15 plays a game, they expect you to be perfect on all the plays," he said. "It's not one of those positions where you can miss a tackle or you can drop a ball or have an off throw because the quarterback has so many plays to redeem himself. I'm the one guy that's kind of got to be automatic. If I don't get it right, I make it harder on Serna or (holders James) Stoddard or Arjei (Franklin). It's the one part of the game that could really effect field position for us.

"It's one of those positions where you're not coached up as much. They just leave it to you to do your own thing and make sure you're ready. If you screw up, enough they'll probably just go out and get someone else."

Serna's day begins bright and early.

"I usually come out before everyone else and kick and get warmed up," said Serna, who figures he boots 35-40 field goals in practice and the same for punts.

Practice means a lot of waiting for the Oregon State product, as he only participates in a couple segments each day.

"They have a schedule in the locker room. I look at that and see when I have to go out there," Serna said. "I do a few kicks (on the sideline) before I have to go out there and do the team work.

"There's a lot of down time. It's just a matter of trying to stay focused. That's the biggest part because sometimes you can lose focus just sitting around."

While they work on their specialty skills separately, it all has to come together for the kicking game to be perfect, especially when your target is the 5-foot-7 Serna.

"He's little. When you're looking through your legs upside down he's a little target," Cvetkovic said. "He's a pretty good athlete. I've put some at his head and put some at his feet and he does a pretty good job with everything I send back there."

And that's why it takes lots and lots of monotonous practise.

"It's pretty dry and redundant," Cvetkovic said. "It's not one of those things where you can go out and find someone to catch a lot of balls with you, so you just work with yourself. You essentially look like loner, but I can't complain."


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