TORONTO — The Toronto Argonauts have their triple threat back.
Kicker/punter Swayze Waters returns to the Argos' lineup Sunday when they host the Ottawa Redblacks. Waters, the CFL's top special-teams player last season, missed six games with a torn quadricep suffered in Toronto's season-opening 26-11 home win over the Edmonton Eskimos in Fort McMurray, Alta.
The 28-year-old from of Jackson, Miss., is an important contributor to the Argos (5-2) as he excels in all three phases of the kicking game. Last season, Waters led the CFL in scoring (192 points), field goals (47), punting (47.7 yards per attempt) and kickoffs (65.2 yards).
The six-foot, 180-pound Waters made 47-of-52 field goals (90.4 per cent) in 2014 with a league-best 53-yard boot.
"Swayze is elite, he has a huge leg, he's a weapon in field position," Argos head coach Scott Milanovich said following Friday's practice. "He allows you to try field goals that you'd normally not be able to . . . on kickoffs the ball goes near the end zone.
"All those things make Swayze, I think, a stronger weapon than most good kickers because of his leg strength and ability to do all three. Where he'll be at Sunday, I'm not sure. He looks good . . . it's going to be a question if Swayze can trust it and cut loose and let his leg go."
Predictably, Waters has no such concerns.
"I'm kicking the ball well," he said. "We were hitting them almost 50 (yards) into the wind so I feel like my leg strength is there.
"It's just a matter of getting back into that routine with operation and staying loose for an entire game but I feel good kicking."
Fortunately for Toronto, its special teams didn't miss a beat during Waters' absence. Rookie Ronnie Pfeffer made 12-of-16 field goals (including a 52-yard kick) while posting a solid 43.9-yard punt average and 58.3 yards on kickoffs.
Pfeffer, of Kitchener, Ont., was released Friday. But the five-foot-11, 185-pound former Wilfrid Laurier star shouldn't be unemployed long after proving with Toronto he's a more than capable CFL kicker/punter.
"He came in and did a really good job and proved himself as a kicker and punter, I believe," Waters said. "I've been in (Pfeffer's) situation many times.
"I've been cut seven times, been on six different teams and played backup and had my opportunities here and there. You have to capitalize when you get the opportunity and he did that."
Waters figures he was hurt trying to put a little extra on a kickoff into the wind. He started experiencing tightness in his quad during training camp and, although he'd been getting treatment for it, he began feeling discomfort in the leg earlier in the game against Edmonton.
"Being a kicker that type of thing is a little bit harder to come back from," he said. "I was back running around in a couple of weeks but it took a while to get to where I felt I was back to myself."
But the injury taught Waters a valuable lesson.
"I've been reminded I don't have to go out there and try to kill every ball," he said. "In the recovery process I started out just barely kicking them and found I can still kick the ball pretty far when I don't try to kick it as hard as I can.
"Just trying to balance that with attacking the ball and hopefully I'll come back as strong or stronger than I was."
Waters won't be the lone veteran returning to Toronto's lineup Sunday. Linebacker Cory Greenwood (concussion-related symptoms) will play after a two-game absence.
Sunday's contest is important to Toronto, which enters weekend action tied atop the East Division with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The Argos also look to improve their home record to 3-0 with a third straight victory overall.
Ottawa (4-3) looks to erase the bitter memory of last weekend's 48-3 road loss to Calgary.
"I hate playing a team coming off a tough loss," Milanovich said. "I'd rather play a team coming off a win when they're feeling good about themselves and maybe they're relaxed a little bit.
"To me, that's a negative for us. They're pissed off, they're embarrassed, they're all those things. They're not making me pleased."
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press