Westwood back in Blue

Troy Westwood is returning to the Blue Bombers as a punter. (Sun Media/Jason Halstead)

Troy Westwood is returning to the Blue Bombers as a punter. (Sun Media/Jason Halstead)

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:30 AM ET

The Blue Bomber whose playful words led to the beginning of the popular Banjo Bowl is back for another kick at the pigskin. Literally.

Troy Westwood will return to the club to replace injured punter Mike Renaud, the local CFL club announced yesterday. Although he is officially on the practice roster, Westwood could suit up as soon as this Saturday when the Montreal Alouettes come to town.

Winnipeg head coach Mike Kelly sent Westwood an S.O.S. text Sunday night after watching Alexis Serna struggle with handling both the punting and placekicking chores in windy conditions during the 24-21 loss to the B.C. Lions at Canad Inns Stadium.

Westwood, 42, who believed his CFL career was over, received the text while watching Couples Retreat at a movie theatre.

"Left field? I'd say it came out of the Beta quadrant in the galaxy somewhere," he said. "It was completely unexpected. Someone asked me early in the day Sunday about me coming back to punt and I said there is absolutely no hope whatsoever of that.

"So I just about fell over when I checked my phone at the movie theatre. I was very surprised and I have more or less been trying to contain and control my emotions since that time, and I've been feeling like vomiting for the vast majority of the day so far.

"I can't really verbalize what this opportunity means to me. I'm wildly anxious and nervous at the same time and really looking forward to the opportunity to show that I can still make a positive impact on the team in that position."

Westwood, who handled both placekicking and punting chores after Bob Cameron retired, was unceremoniously cast adrift by former head coach Doug Berry during last year's training camp. But he has a much better relationship with Kelly, who was a Bomber assistant in the 1990s.

"Troy and I have an 18-year history here and I've seen what he can do and I know what kind of conditions we've played in before and certainly, his experience, if anything, can certainly help out Alexis in learning how to kick in this stadium and in those elements," Kelly said.

"This is not a condemnation at all of anything that Alexis Serna did (Sunday). I thought he did a fine job for us. But we also played a Canadian down and this gives us an opportunity to bring Troy in on the practice roster and take a look to see how he can do."

Kelly suggested earlier this season that Serna's placekicking had improved so dramatically because he no longer had to worry about punting with Renaud doing that so well.

"(This) allows Alexis to do what he's been doing just about better than just about anybody in the league this year and that's kick extra points and field goals," Kelly said. "It makes us more efficient if it can work out. If it doesn't, then we're still OK with 'Lex doing both jobs."

Westwood, who has been working for a local radio station and for a family reunification program, has no designs on trying to unseat Serna as the Winnipeg placekicker.

"Alexis has proven, without any doubt, that he is a remarkably capable placekicker," he said. "He's arguably the best placekicker in the CFL right now and I don't foresee any reason for me whatsoever ... to concentrate on placekicking."

Westwood, who will wear No. 74, is salivating over the prospect of playing as soon as this Saturday.

"I'm assuming it will be the same feeling as before a playoff game or a Grey Cup game where you can barely walk because you're so excited and ready to go," he said. "I'll just be frothing at the mouth and just have to control my emotions and my excitement."

Westwood, who was born in Dauphin, has appeared in 278 games, including four Grey Cup contests. He holds more than 30 team records, including all-time scoring (2,741) and most seasons leading the team in scoring (15). He also holds the CFL record for best career field goal percentage in the playoffs (85.7%).

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos