Let’s see if we have this straight.
Justin Palardy makes 32 of his first 38 field goal attempts as a member of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and he’s already been booed twice by the hometown crowd?
No wonder Troy Westwood is a little off. He spent 20 years dealing with the fickle fans at Canad Inns Stadium.
The latest bout of boos directed Palardy’s way came on Friday night when the second-year kicker missed his first two attempts in Winnipeg’s 22-16 triumph over Toronto. The first time it happened was last October against B.C., when he whiffed on a 31-yarder, although the fans were in a booing mode that day with Alex Brink struggling at quarterback.
Of course, Palardy was the hero later in that game against the Lions when his 42-yarder as time expired sent the game to overtime.
“That’s how things change so quick,” Palardy said.
Speaking of change, that’s probably why Palardy missed his first two kicks against the Boatmen on Friday night. Since it wanted a better cover man on the field, the coaching staff decided to have cornerback Jovon Johnson hold for Palardy instead of punter Mike Renaud.
The transition wasn’t a smooth one, as Palardy pulled his attempts from 28 and 43 yards. It got better in a hurry, though, as Palardy was good on his last four tries and essentially accounted for the winning points as the Bombers improved to 2-0 for the first time since 2003.
They will try to push their hot start to 3-0 on Thursday at Canad Inns Stadium against the Calgary Stampeders (1-1).
“It was good to get a couple out of the way first,” Palardy said. “The last four he was pretty good at it, so it was good. He got the hang of it pretty quick. It worked out well.”
Even though head coach Paul LaPolice said Johnson’s ball placement was fine on both misses, Palardy said the laces were in on at least one of them.
“But it was the first time J.J. got to hold in a game, so he did well for his first game and we’re going to get better at it,” Palardy said.
Palardy might need to be on his game for the next little while as the Bomber offence finds its rhythm. Winnipeg’s point getters have produced just two touchdowns, and made one journey into the red zone in the first two games.
Bomber fans need not worry. When you look at the last three full-time field goal kickers in Winnipeg, Palardy, who is cruising along at an 84% clip, is off to a much better start to his career than that trio had.
Trevor Kennerd made just 66% of his kicks in 1980, Westwood had a 73% success rate over eight games in his rookie season of 1991, and Alexis Serna connected on only 61% of his first 38 kicks in 2008.
Bomber fans might want to remember that the next time they get ready to rain the boos down on Justin Palardy.