Nowhere to go but up

JIM BENDER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:41 PM ET

It was his first CFL game as a special teams coach for the Blue Bombers and what happens?

Boom, the opening kickoff is returned 93 yards for a touchdown by Hamilton’s Marcus Thigpen.

“It was shocking,” Kyle Walters admitted Monday. “Like all the people in the crowd and along the sidelines, I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ ”

But the former University of Guelph head coach maintained a positive outlook, thinking “that it can only get better.”

It did, for a while. The Bombers rebounded to take a 24-9 lead, which included a touchdown off a blocked punt late in the first half.

But, in the second half, Thigpen returned a 49-yard missed field goal 118 yards for a TD.

“Yeah, it was a tough start for the special teams but what can you do?” Walters said. “You go in and correct it and get better, and that’s what we’re doing.”

Veteran snapper

In fact, the Bombers will now use defensive ends Odell Willis and Phillip Hunt on long field goal attempts and have signed veteran long snapper Taylor Inglis.

“The first one (by Thigpen), two people got kicked out of their lane and that just can’t happen,” said Winnipeg head coach Paul LaPolice. “The second one … that’s going to happen when you miss long field goals … But we just put two faster guys on that team to do a better job of covering kicks, and I think the long snapping will help the process.”

CRAVER OUT: Veteran import DB Keyuo Craver, who had been relegated to a backup role, suffered a torn ACL and will be out of action indefinitely. Former Montreal Alouettes DB Clint Kent is due to come off the one-game injury list but LaPolice admitted that the Bombers are seeking more secondary help.

That’s because three of the five starters in the secondary sat out Monday’s practice with different hurts, namely LaVar Glover (leg), Brandon Stewart (undisclosed) and Alex Suber (undisclosed).

“We expect (Glover) to be healthy but that will be a day-to-day thing and Suber, we’ll see,” LaPolice said. “Our DBs were kind of decimated last week so, we’re trying to be cautious with these guys.”

RESTRAINING ORDER: LaPolice also wants his troops to be a little more restrained when it comes to celebrating on the field.

“The one thing I have told our players is we should not celebrate the average play,” he said. “So, we don’t do the first-down marker (celebration) after a hitch. We don’t do the curl, jump up and down and wave to the fans. They can celebrate but it had better be a tremendous play. It had better be an unbelievable one-handed diving catch, or if we sack the quarterback.”

LaPolice, you may recall, was the offensive co-ordinator during the days that Milt Stegall would lead touchdown dances.

“The funny story about that is that I went to (quarterback) Khari (Jones) at one time and I said, ‘Geez, that’s really good, Milt’s getting the guys before the game to talk for the last few minutes,’ and he said, ‘What are you talking about? They’re getting their dance ready.’

“Hey, when it’s not your candy store, you can’t control those things. You kind of let it go and those things were fun. But we want to act like we’ve been there before.”

HASHMARKS: Toronto DB Willie Pile will likely miss Friday’s game with a knuckle injury that may require surgery. The Argos re-signed DB Dwaine Carpenter, who was cut during camp, to replace Pile … Both Winnipeg RB Fred Reid and S Shawn Gallant, who left Friday’s game with nicks, practised Monday … Also looking ready to return from one-game injury stints were WR Jabari Arthur and OL Ryan Donnelly.

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


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