ALBERTA

New kicker Brody McKnight may see action for Edmonton Eskimos against Hamilton

09/13/2012 04:44 EDT | Updated 11/13/2012 05:12 EST
EDMONTON - If it all works out, Brody McKnight will step onto a CFL field for the first time Saturday in Hamilton to give a leg up to an Edmonton Eskimo team that has lost its last two games on missed last-second field goals.

"I prefer kicking, but if the coach needs me to punt I can do that as well," said McKnight after practice Thursday at Commonwealth Stadium.

"If they call on me, I'll be ready."

The 22-year-old Vancouver native was traded to Edmonton from Montreal Wednesday for kicker Derek Schiavone and two draft picks.

Edmonton head coach Kavis Reed said Grant Shaw will kick against Hamilton, but said McKnight may dress depending on how he performs in practice.

"From the stuff that we charted he was OK (in the first practice)," said Reed.

"We don't expect him to be perfect right now because he just got off of a really, really, really late flight last night."

Reed also said there's a worry given that the 5-5 Eskimos are in a dogfight for a playoff spot and the new kid is, well, just a kid.

"Any time you put someone on who doesn't have experience, who really hasn't done anything in terms of kicking in this league — (given) the angles, the width of the field, (and) the 12th man — there are concerns," said Reed.

The Eskimos have a lot of concerns heading into the matchup against the 3-7 Tiger-Cats.

The offence is sputtering and the kicking game is erratic.

The Eskimos are second last in points scored per game (23.8) and last in average yards passing per game (253.7).

Shaw has been handling field goals, punts and kickoffs since punter Burke Dales went on the nine-game injury list after hurting his plant foot against the Calgary Stampeders on Labour Day.

The concern is the workload is too much for Shaw.

He shanked a couple of punts against the Stampeders in the Labour Day rematch loss last Friday and missed a 42-yard field goal attempt that would have won the game. Edmonton lost 20-18.

Four days earlier, he missed a last-second 48-yard kick in a 31-30 loss to Calgary.

Asked about McKnight's arrival, Shaw said it's what's best for the team.

"It's just unfortunate that Burke got hurt. It has just brought about having to make some changes," he said.

"For all of us it's all about adapting and doing the best job we can."

McKnight kicked for the University of Montana and was the top pick of the Alouettes in 2011. This year he was behind Sean Whyte after coming back from failed tryouts with the New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals of the NFL.

"I feel more at home here than I did in Montreal, to be honest with you. It's closer to home," said McKnight.

He said he has Oct. 19 circled on his calendar, the day the Eskimos play the Lions in B.C.

"My family is all there. I've got a lot of blood in Vancouver."

He said he grew up watching and emulating kickers like Adam Vinatieri of the Indianapolis Colts. Vinatieri became famous in 2002 with two clutch kicks in blizzard conditions to lead the New England Patriots to a controversial playoff win over the Oakland Raiders in what is now referred to as the infamous "Tuck Rule Game."

"I'm big on the clutch kicks. I've always had a lot of respect for kickers who make those kicks. He (Vinatieri) is a guy I really look up to and aspire to," said McKnight.

The key to clutch kicking, he said, is zoning out all the surrounding noise.

"It's hard to explain, but you've got 80,000 fans (surrounding you). You're only human, but you gotta do the best you can. You almost have to be robotic with your approach."

Saturday's game will be the first meeting between the Esks and the Ticats in 2012. Kerry Joseph will start for the hobbled Steven Jyles at quarterback.

It's the third consecutive start for Joseph. The 10-year veteran said the more reps he gets, the better he's playing.

"It comes back to you. You can see it a lot in practice and when you start to get into game situations you can slow that mental picture down and it helps a lot," he said.

"I try to play the game in my mind, seeing the field, what to expect on certain plays. That way when it happens (in the game), I'm not caught off guard."

Joseph has seen action in eight games in 2012. He is 73 of 110 for 996 yards passing with five touchdowns and six interceptions.

Notes: The Eskimos have acquired fullback Darcy Brown from the Ticats for defensive back Ricardo Colclough and a draft pick. The Eskimos need help at fullback with Mathieu Bertrand hurt.

"It's a position of need and it doesn't hurt that he (Brown) is Canadian," said Reed.

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