Pressure on Bombers’ Harris to deliver with Nichols on the shelf


WINNIPEG — Andrew Harris is ready, willing and more than able to carry a heavier load to start the season.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers veteran running back may have to do that right away as the team opens the CFL regular season Thursday at home against Edmonton with rookie quarterback Chris Streveler at the controls in place of injured starter Matt Nichols.

“I pride myself on being a four-way back, that being catching the ball, rushing the ball, blocking, being a leader,” Harris said after his team’s walk-through on Wednesday. “So whichever one of those attributes are things I need to do more of, so be it.”

Harris was named the league’s most outstanding Canadian last season after rushing 189 times for 1,035 yards and catching 105 passes for 857 yards in 18 games. He had six touchdowns along the ground and one through the air.

Entering his ninth season, he said he’s also willing to be a decoy for Streveler, whom he says has displayed confidence since he was named the Week 1 starter on Monday.

Nichols injured his right knee during practice June 6 and will miss four to six weeks.

“He doesn’t seem like a 23 year old fresh out of school,” Harris said of Streveler, who just graduated from the University of South Dakota. “His attributes, as far as talent, are one of quick decisions, athletic. He can throw the deep ball, he can check it down.

“It’s just a matter of how he’s going to put it all together when the bullets are flying live and it actually means something.”

Last year at South Dakota, the six-foot-one native of Crystal Lake, Ill., passed for 4,134 yards and rushed for another 720 yards in 13 games. He had 43 passing and 11 rushing touchdowns. He was a finalist for the Walter Payton Award, given to the top offensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision, formerly Division I-AA.

“I know a lot of emphasis gets put on the quarterback position, but there’s a lot of veteran guys on this team that have been helping me out throughout the week,” Streveler said.

“And they just really relay, ‘Hey, make plays when they’re there and just stay within yourself.’ You don’t have to do anything too crazy or try to be something that you’re not.”

One of Streveler’s assets is his feet. At a pro day earlier this year, he ran a 4.45-second 40-yard dash.

Edmonton linebacker J.C. Sherritt, back after rupturing his Achilles tendon in the Eskimos’ season-opener last year, said Harris is a multi-faceted threat who could team up well with Streveler.

“You throw in Chris and what he can do athletically and it’s going to pose some problems and we’re ready for that,” Sherritt said.

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Source:: Sportsnet

      

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