Chris Milo will be sharing his punting and placekicking duties with a CFL veteran Friday night in Edmonton.
The struggling Saskatchewan Roughriders have added Sandro DeAngelis to their lineup as they look to turn things around with a win over the Eskimos.
The Roughriders, who are coming off a bye week, opened the season with three straight victories, then suffered consecutive losses to the Stampeders and Tiger-Cats. In both of those games, the Riders took seemingly comfortable leads into the fourth quarter.
This dramatic reversal of fortunes is not being pinned entirely on Milo, but the arrival of DeAngelis earlier in the week cannot be interpreted as anything except dissatisfaction with at least a portion of Milo’s game. He is averaging nearly 47 yards per punt, but his placekicking has been a disturbing 11-for-17.
Milo seemed uncertain on Thursday as to how Saskatchewan head coach Corey Chamblin plans to deploy DeAngelis in Edmonton. He is expecting to find out at game time, he said.
DeAngelis, however, said he will be handling the placements.
“There’s not many that do all three in this league,” Milo said, citing Paul McCallum of the B.C. Lions as the notable exception. “It takes a load off, for sure. But you still have to go out there and perform and do your job.”
Milo insisted that he is “absolutely” comfortable with these new arrangements, insisting that he doesn’t take any of this personally and emphasizing that football is competitive by nature. DeAngelis, meanwhile, does not see it as being competitive at all. He is under the impression that the Roughriders intend to keep both kickers, one to handle placements, the other to do the punting.
DeAngelis played with the Stamps from 2005 through 2009. He spent the 2010 season with the Ticats. In 2011 he was strictly a reserve kicker for the Montreal Alouettes, who released him at the end of the season.
DeAngelis has made nearly 83 per cent of his field goals, connecting on 250 of 302 attempts, and has punted only once in his career — for 34 yards.
“I’m really excited about the opportunity,” DeAngelis said on Thursday. “I’m looking forward to helping the team in any way I can. If there’s any big kicks that need to be made, I’m looking forward to doing it.”
Describing his working relationship with Milo as “terrific,” DeAngelis argued that when it comes to situations such as this, “you have to check your ego at the door — and that goes for all 46 players on the roster.”
A stark contrast to the stoic Milo, he spoke colourfully and enthusiastically about having “the passions of a young child” and “living a dream every day” and “always going out of the field with a smile on my face.”
Reminded that he will be performing under the close scrutiny of his new coaches and teammates, not to mention the always energetic and sometime unforgiving fans of the Roughriders, DeAngelis repeated the maxim that no one places more pressure on an athlete than does the athlete himself.
“I welcome the expectations,” he said.