Sakoda's status for Sunday up in air

JIM BENDER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:56 AM ET

The import kicker who has yet to boot a ball in anger for the Blue Bombers finally returned to practice Wednesday.

Louie Sakoda practised for the first time since suffe-ing a pulled calf muscle during the pre-game warmup on Aug. 13.

But whether the former Saskatchewan Roughrider will suit up for the game against the Argonauts in Toronto on Sunday remains up in the air.

"It's my first day back," Sakoda said. "I don't know how much I want to test it just yet. It needs a little more strength, in my opinion. I'll just go through the motions this week and test the waters and see what happens from there."

Yet, the aim was for Sakoda to return this Sunday.

"This was kind of a landmark game for me to try to come back for," he said. "I'm right on schedule with everything. It does feel strong. It feels good but that (kicking) motion is hard to duplicate when you're doing the rehab. It's a very explosive motion so it's just something I'm trying to be cautious with and trying not to re-pull it so I'm not out another month and a half."

Winnipeg head coach Paul LaPolice is not about to rush Sakoda back, especially since Justin Palardy has been kicking so well as his replacement.

"He has to get well and he has to show us he's capable of kicking long field goals and out-kick Justin," he said. "It will be an evaluation over the course of this week and next."

Although Palardy is a Canadian, the Bombers are capable of adding an import to the roster, if he is the best kicker.

"(Palardy's) performed well," he said. "He missed one -- a 42-yarder -- and he's working on getting his kickoffs deeper."

Sakoda, who has been rooming with Palardy, admitted it has been a strange season so far.

"It was just a horrible series of unfortunate events," he said, adding that it is a friendly competition with Palardy. "Coming from a bad game in Saskatchewan and being released and coming up here and this happening. It's just the nature of it. You have your ups and your downs but all it does is make you appreciate more when everything is status quo."

LUMSDEN UPDATE: Bombers assistant GM Ross Hodgkinson said the Bombers have left the ball in free agent running back Jesse Lumsden's court as he explores other options. The team has been close to signing the oft-injured non-import for a couple of weeks.

TILLMAN TALK: As a former Saskatchewan Roughriders offensive co-ordinator, LaPolice worked for Eric Tillman, who has just been hired as the Edmonton Eskimos GM. Tillman resigned his job as Riders GM after pleading guilty to a summary charge of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl.

"I'm excited for Eric to have an opportunity, and I'm sure he'll make them a better club down the road," LaPolice said. "It's a good opportunity for him. He's been very humbled and I'm sure he's going to handle himself in the right way."

BACK AT SAFETY: With backup safety Brady Browne out with a high ankle sprain, Canadian linebacker Chris Smith started taking reps as the backup to starter Ian Logan on Wednesday.

"He played safety at Queen's at times, because he was one of the smartest guys on their defence," LaPolice said. "They had a lot of trust in him we have a lot of trust in him because he has good understanding and he's a big kid who can run."

Meanwhile, backup safety James Green is being converted into a linebacker.

TICKET RUSH: The Bombers have already sold more than 21,000 tickets for next Friday's game against the Montreal Alouettes.


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