Blue Bombers don’t feel the need to upgrade kicking game


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At last year’s trade deadline, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers made a critical move that would pay off in a second straight CFL championship.

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They acquired kicker Sergio Castillo, one of the most valuable players in the 2021 Gray Cup game.

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Fast forward 12 months, and this year’s deadline came and went on Wednesday without moving to find another leg.

This was good news for the man they call “Legs”.

“I like that the team has confidence in me to do all three (jobs) so far,” said CFL sophomore Marc Liegghio. “That’s what I expected to do in the pros. I did it in college at a high level, so I just wanted to correlate it to the professional level. And I’m just happy that the team supports me.

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Last season, Liegghio lost the placement part of the job long before Castillo arrived, making way for Ali Mourtada in September.

He stuck to it despite some struggles earlier this season.

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“You just have to look at the numbers,” said head coach Mike O’Shea. “The numbers are completely different to what they were last year…every time we’ve done this deal. They just speak for themselves. We’re in a very different situation than last year. Our kicking game is good.

It wasn’t as easy to say after an overtime loss to Montreal on Aug. 11.

Missed field goals in the last regulation play (32 yards) and in overtime (37 yards) left Liegghio 19 for 23. He had missed four other converts by that point.

But the 25-year-old has scored nine consecutive field goals since, including a 55-yarder in the Labor Day Classic in Saskatchewan.

He missed another conversion. But his overall job placement success rate (28 out of 32) is 87.5%, up from 62.5% (5 out of 8) when he lost that job last season.

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Mourtada struggled even more when he took over (8 for 15, 53.3%), triggering the trade.

So Winnipeg’s kicking game is definitely better than it was a year ago.

Playoffs and playoff weather will test even the best leg.

Liegghio had a taste of it as a punter last season. He will get the full meal this year.

“The West final was pretty cold, but I was ready for it,” he said. “If it was my first game, like maybe some guys from Florida, it might be a little different. I’m a little used to it, but it’s always nice to get an idea in training before the game.


Although center Michael Couture has been back in the lineup for the past two games, he has yet to return to the starting role he had before the injury.

It continues to belong to 30-year-old Chris Kolankowski.

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“He was the starting center for a really good group that had a lot of success this year,” O’Shea said. “Put the guys in the right places. He is physical. Hard. He played very well. »

Couture was named a CFL All-Star by his peers last season, his second as a starter.

But egos clearly have to be put aside in this team.

“When they come to this room, they do better,” O’Shea said. “I don’t think this team handles egos walking around the room well. There is no need either. We have a great group of guys. They don’t need to come in like that.


Freshman defensive back Donald Rutledge Jr. appears to have lost his starting job to Montreal native Redha Kramdi, a draft pick in his second season with the Bombers.

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Rutledge, an American, made way for Kramdi for the final quarter of last week’s win over Saskatchewan and again this week in practice.

“Sometimes as a young player you hit the wall,” defensive coordinator Richie Hall said. “What have we played so far, 15 games and two preseason games? It’s almost two college seasons. It’s just long. It’s a chore. Until you go through the grind, you don’t know.


Defensive back Alden Darby Jr., acquired in a trade from Hamilton on Tuesday, isn’t the only former Tiger-Cat to join the Bombers this week.

Winnipeg also signed DB Desmond Lawrence, adding him to the practice lineup on Wednesday.

Lawrence was Hamilton’s candidate for top rookie last season, when he had a quarterback sack, two interceptions and 22 defensive tackles in 10 games.

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The 27-year-old was released after playing five games and registering four tackles this season.

“It was a surprise,” Hall said. “One man’s misfortune is another man’s opportunity. And it’s an opportunity for us. I don’t know what happened there, but it gives us the opportunity to bring the depth… he has experience playing, so it’s not like you’re trying to teach him the game.


Lineman D Thiadric Hansen, who still wore a walking boot after an Achilles injury, worked on the tackle dummies on the touchline during Wednesday’s practice.

O’Shea, however, says Hansen won’t be back anytime soon.

“I don’t think T will be back this year,” the coach said. “I really do not know.”

Hansen joins Nick Taylor and Mercy Maston as Achilles injury victims this season, an unusually high number.

“I don’t spend time looking for an explanation during the season,” O’Shea said. “I don’t think there’s any research that says there’s anything that’s a telltale sign that this is going to happen.”


Defensive lineman Ricky Walker was fined an undisclosed amount for illegally blocking Riders lineman Terran Vaughn last week… The league’s three Players of the Month for September included quarterback Zach Collaros of Winnipeg and receiver Nic Demski.

Twitter: @friesensunmedia

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