Blue Bombers will give place-kicker Chandler Staton his shot in pre-season game Saturday

blue bombers will give place-kicker chandler staton his shot in pre-season game saturday

American rookie Chandler Staton will handle the place-kicking duties for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in Saturday’s pre-season game at Edmonton.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ kicking competition will hit the road this weekend and American rookie Chandler Staton will get the first opportunity to show his stuff in a game.

Staton, a 26-year-old CFL newcomer out of Appalaichan State University in North Carolina, will be the only place-kicker on the trip as the Bombers head to Edmonton for a pre-season game against the Elks at Commonwealth Stadium.

Staton has been competing with CFL veterans Sergio Castillo and Marc Liegghio in training camp, but those two players will not suit up in Edmonton, giving the rookie a great chance to make a mark.

“I feel like I’ve done really well … definitely holding my own,” Staton said Thursday after a training camp session at IG Field.

“I’ve enjoyed the competition. I would much prefer a situation like this, where I’m competing against guys who have done it and are very vetted in the league, instead of someone where you’d come in and just sweep the job. This is way more beneficial for me as an athlete and a kicker than it would be the other way.”

By all accounts, Staton is giving the veteran kickers a run for their money. It still seems unlikely that he will take the job from seven-season veteran Castillo, who was signed as a free agent earlier this month after getting released by the Elks, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility.

Liegghio was the Bombers place-kicker and punter last season, but after he struggled in key moments, including the Grey Cup, the team brought in several players to compete for both jobs in training camp.

There’s certainly a chance he could lose both jobs, as global players Karl Schmitz and Jamieson Sheahan will be the punters in Saturday’s pre-season game.

blue bombers will give place-kicker chandler staton his shot in pre-season game saturday

Jamieson Sheahan, a 26-year-old from Australia via the University of California, will be one of two punters for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in Saturday’s game at Edmonton.

Head coach Mike O’Shea said the kickers will likely be given every opportunity to show what they can do with such an intense position battle going on throughout training camp.

“We’ve got some competition in that area,” O’Shea said. “So, now what are you doing on third-and-short? We’d like to stick with the routine and go for it, but are you kicking just because you want to see your kickers? I don’t know how it’s going to unfold, but we certainly need to see our guys in a game situation, with the other team rushing hard at us, in a different environment in the stadium.”

Sheahan, who is from Australia and played Div. I football at the University of California, may have the best chance to earn a job. The Bombers already know what Liegghio can do — he was the league’s fifth best punter in terms of average yards last season — and Schmitz is 36 years old.

Sheahan is 26 and played professional Australian Rules Football (second division) for two years before heading to the States to try the four-down game.

“I’m prepared for the moment,” Sheahan said. “I played PAC-12 football at Cal and we often had 40,000, 50,000, 60,000 in the stands, so I’m pretty used to the pressure by now.

“I’m pretty used to performing under pressure and I think it’s the reason I’ve come this far. You can be a great practice punter but can you do it when the moment comes?”

That’s something we’ll find out on Saturday.

blue bombers will give place-kicker chandler staton his shot in pre-season game saturday

Karl Schmitz, a 36-year-old punter from Bermuda, will get a chance to show what he can do in a pre-season game for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Saturday in Edmonton.

It’s the same situation with Staton, who has to show what he can do with live bullets flying. The Bombers already know what Castillo and Liegghio can do. This is Staton’s time to shine.

“I’m just going to go out and do what I do,” he said. “Every kick is its own and I’ll just do my thing. I’ve been kicking for a long time and nothing has changed, especially when it comes to the act of doing it.

“The uprights are the same. Perception’s a little bit different, but besides that it’s the same thing I’ve been doing for a long time.”

Like all the rest of the Bombers’ newcomers, Saturday’s game provides an opportunity for the kickers to stop working against teammates and start working with them, against a common enemy.

“We’ve been training for this and this is why we play football, to play games,” Sheahan said. “There’s nothing more exciting than going out there and getting to pull on the jumper for the first time. I feel like we’re prepared for it and if the opportunity arises on Saturday, I’ll certainly try to take full advantage of it.”

Even if this is the only road trip of the season for some rookies — cuts will be coming soon enough and there aren’t a ton of spots available to begin with — Sheahan expects it to be a memorable experience.

“Seeing new faces and eating new food … that’s exciting,” Sheahan said. “I think about the only two places I’ve seen in Winnipeg so far are my dorm room and the stadium.

“Camp has been long and a great experience, but looking forward to doing what we all came here to do — play football.”

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Twitter.com/Ted_Wyman

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