Augustine proud of Bombers’ Canadian RB group, feels ready if Andrew Harris can’t start Week 1

Photo courtesy: Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Johnny Augustine is proud to be part of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ running back room, which features more Canadian talent than any other group in the CFL.

“It’s a Canadian league and the fact that it is a Canadian room does make it special,” said Augustine in a videoconference. “Andrew Harris has done a great job in establishing that and we just continue to follow in his footsteps. I’m happy to say I’m proud to be Canadian and to continue that tradition and be a national starter — a national ratio-breaker.”

Winnipeg was the only team in the CFL to start a Canadian running back throughout the regular season and playoffs in 2019, culminating in a Grey Cup title. Augustine started two games while Harris was suspended after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance, recording 28 carries for 173 yards and five receptions for 80 yards and a touchdown in those games.

Joining the Guelph product in the backfield is former second-round draft pick Brady Oliveira, who missed almost his entire rookie season in 2019 due to a broken leg. The Winnipeg native brings some power to the backfield as he’s able to move the pile with his five-foot-ten, 227-pound frame.

“I think everyone brings a great skillset, whoever’s in the game,” said Augustine. “Brady’s very quick, very strong. I know I’m a speedy guy, I love pass protection. I think we’re all-around backs — that’s what it is. I’m not going to separate the difference between both of us, but at the end of the day I think we’re both capable of doing the job, whoever’s in there.”

Augustine worked on his pass catching during the CFL’s extended off-season, wanting to ensure he brings as much to the table as possible. When asked if he’s tempted to take on a hybrid running back-slotback role similar to that of Nic Demski, he chuckled.

“Nic Demski is Nic Demski,” said Augustine. “At the end of the day whether it tailback or wherever, I’m going to do my job.”

There is a growing concern that Andrew Harris will miss Winnipeg’s home opener due to a lingering lower-body injury. Southeastern Louisiana product Devonte Williams is on the roster, but it’s likely that the Blue Bombers would continue starting a national if Harris is unable to go with Augustine, Oliveira, and Kyle Borsa all on the roster.

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.