ERIC WILBUR'S chances of making the Winnipeg Blue Bombers may have just left.
Wide left, actually.
The non-import punter/kicker from Florida had it laid out to him before the start of this month of training camp: He was brought in to challenge Mike Renaud for the punting job, yes, but he would have to also show well as a placekicker (excelling in both field goals and kickoffs) to justify his inclusion on the final roster.
Going 0-for-2 in the field goal department -- including pulling a 37-yard try left of the north end zone upright with no time on the clock against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Wednesday -- was not going to get it done.
That, according to Wilbur himself.
"No, no, God no, I didn't do enough. I didn't do my job, I missed a field goal -- I missed two field goals," he said after Winnipeg's 26-25 loss to the Tabbies at Canad Inns Stadium. "I had one blocked and pulled the next one. They want me to do all three; I have to do all three to perfection."
Kicker Justin Palardy also missed a field goal, a 30-yard attempt early in the game, while Renaud had four punts for a 40.5-yard average.
Wilbur, who averaged 43 yards on three punts, thought he had the winning points on his foot when he made contact with the ball. He hit it solid, he said, but started it a little left of centre off the Alex Brink hold. When the official under the uprights pointed left, and the three points dropped to a 50-yard single, he knew his stay in the Manitoba capital might be over.
"Next time I'm just going to have to put it down the middle and not leave it to judgment," he said.
Most believe the odds were stacked against Wilbur from the start, as the Bombers would have to burn one of their three designated import spots to include the American on the roster. That's easy to do if a kicker/punter gives you a noticeable advantage with field position, which is what the coaching staff will have to weigh over the course of today and Friday when the Bombers are expected to get the roster down to final numbers.
When asked what he thought of his kickers after the game, head coach Paul LaPolice was curt.
"We left some points on the board," he said.
INJURIES: Defensive back Demond Washington left the field in the third quarter with a "hurt head," LaPolice said after the game. Washington took a Terence Jeffers-Harris knee to the head trying to make a tackle. Offensive lineman Tyson Pencer left the game with a shoulder injury. Word in the locker-room suggested the training staff had to pop his shoulder back into the joint.