Star Winnipeg Blue Bombers running back Andrew Harris was in attendance at practice on Tuesday, but did not physically participate in the session.
“Andrew’s probably going to take it easy for the next couple weeks and then he’ll be ready to go when I ask him to be,” O’Shea said in his post-practice press conference.
“If I asked him to practice today, if I asked him to practice tomorrow, he would practice, but I’m not going to ask him to practice for a little bit because we need to figure out who is behind him. We need to get the reps for the young guys.”
The reigning Grey Cup MVP left practice on Monday and did not return. Head coach Mike O’Shea, who rarely divulges information regarding player injuries, told the media after practice that Harris had an appointment to go to.
“We don’t need Andrew to practice right now. This is part of the plan of having a veteran team and the importance that we put on having those vets for a shortened season with no pre-season games,” O’Shea said. “Part of the trade-off is making sure that you keep your vets healthy. I’ve seen it done over, and over, and over again for a number of years — you gotta protect your guys.”
The 34-year-old recorded 225 carries for 1,380 yards and four touchdowns in 2019, becoming the CFL’s all-time leading rusher among Canadian players. He will enter the 2021 season 962 yards shy of 10,000 in his career, a milestone that has only been reached by five players in league history.
Only five players in CFL history have ever reached 10,000 career rushing yards: Mike Pringle (16,425), George Reed (16,116), Damon Allen (11,920), Johnny Bright (10,909), and Charles Roberts (10,285). All of these players are American, meaning Harris would be the first Canadian player ever to reach 10,000 career rushing yards.
Harris has not missed a game due to injury over the past three seasons despite a heavy workload in Winnipeg. He was suspended for two games in 2019 after testing positive for a trace amount of a performance-enhancing substance.
The Winnipeg native has already achieved remarkable feats in a career that includes two Grey Cups, three rushing titles, a Most Outstanding Canadian award, and a Grey Cup MVP award. Should he reach the 1,000-yard mark in 2021, Harris’ career will become all the more unforgettable.