Vandy sticks to guns

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:26 AM ET

Mike Vanderjagt is hoping he can still get his kicks in Indianapolis.

The outspoken placekicker from Oakville is under contract to the Colts, but the team wants to re-work the deal for salary-cap reasons.

"I expect to be re-signed, I would think, to hopefully end my career in Indianapolis," Vanderjagt said yesterday before the Conn Smythe Dinner.

Vanderjagt said he didn't expect his role to change. The team reduced his responsibilities from all kicking duties to simply field goals and extra points, claiming his leg strength for kickoffs had dropped off. A variety of replacements were brought in to take his place.

"If I kick off, great, if not and they want to go in another direction, there's nothing I can do about that," he said. "I'm good either way."

Vanderjagt caused a controversy during the week leading up to Indy's playoff game against New England, when he opined the Patriots were "ripe for the picking" when interviewed on a Colts' television show. The comment spread and Vanderjagt was called "Vanderjerk," even though he didn't say anything derogatory about the Patriots. New England beat Indy.

Vanderjagt bristled when asked yesterday about his comments by Global TV's Scott Laughlin, specifically if his remarks were blown out of proportion.

"Much too much was made about nothing," Vanderjagt said. "That's the wonderful world of the media. I just said I think we have a good chance to win. If that's talking too much, then I don't know what you're supposed to say these days. I just said we could win the game. I didn't guarantee anything. I didn't say: 'They stink and we're the best.' I just thought we could win.

"You guys (in the media) seem to think that I'm some outspoken, crazy Canadian. I guess you're going to make something out of anything that comes out of my mouth, so that's what I've learned. You're not going to hear anything out of me."

Vanderjagt, meanwhile, said he was not surprised the Patriots beat the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl.

"Just based on the fact New England seems to be a team that is darn near unbeatable," he said. "From top to bottom, they're as good a team as there ever has been in the NFL."

HUMBLE COACH

He is a finalist for the Canadian Football League's 2004 coach-of-the-year honours, but Greg Marshall thinks there is a more deserving winner.

Marshall took the Ticats from 1-17 in 2003 to the playoffs in his first season as a pro head coach and is a finalist for the award along with Toronto's Pinball Clemons and B.C.'s Wally Buono. The winner will be announced later this month in Winnipeg.

"Everyone is talking about the coach of the year and, quite honestly, Pinball won the Grey Cup, so he'd be my vote," Marshall said. "You know what mattered? That I was considered. But if Michael won I'd be just as happy."

HAMILTON REUNION?

Former star McMaster running back Jesse Lumsden says he wouldn't mind a reunion with Marshall on the Ticats playing for the Tiger-Cats.

"I've played for Coach Marshall before and I'd be happy to play for him again," said Lumsden, who will wait to see if he is drafted by an NFL team in April or signed as a free agent. "I'd be happy for anybody that really wants to give me a shot and pay me to play football."

Lumsden also is eligible for the CFL draft and is a projected first-rounder.


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