Andrew Harris proves he can ‘still make plays’ in 2021 debut with hometown Bombers

34-year-old Canadian running back Andrew Harris can still make an impact on a CFL football field.

After over a year-and-a-half since his dominant 107th Grey Cup performance, Harris ran 17 times for 81 yards, including a long of 20, in his first game of the 2021 season during Week 4. He displayed his distinct traits: power, physicality, agility and elusiveness in an 18-16 win against the Calgary Stampeders.

“Just to get back on the field it was amazing. When you get the ball in your hands and you still feel like you can do the things you’ve been doing, it’s a great feeling,” Harris said.

“I’m proud of the game I put out there, I’m proud of my teammates and how they supported me through the whole thing. I definitely felt like I could still contribute and still make some plays.”

Harris sat out most of training camp and missed the first three games of the year with what the team termed a calf injury. He had not missed a game due to injury in his three previous seasons in Winnipeg despite a heavy workload. However, No. 33 was suspended for two games in 2019 after testing positive for a trace amount of a performance-enhancing substance.

The Winnipeg native made up for his last absence by leading the Bombers to their first CFL title in 29 years, becoming the first player ever to be named both Most Valuable Canadian and Most Valuable Player in a Grey Cup game. Harris rushed 18 times for 134 yards and one touchdown while recording five catches for 35 yards and another major.

“I missed cuts in the Grey Cup game in 2019 and everyone thought that was the best game ever. You never ever play a perfect game where you make all the right reads and cuts. That’s why we break things down and work on getting better,” Harris said.

“It’s a confidence boost. He’s a leader, he has this aura about him where you know he’s a confident guy and guys feed off that. He’s there to go, he’s there to play. He’s going to go down as one of the best to ever play this game,” quarterback Zach Collaros said.

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).

Harris currently has 9,119 career rushing yards, which is 881 shy of the illustrious 10,000-yard mark. He must average just over 88 yards in the 10 remaining regular season games if he wishes to hit the mark this year. That would make him the first Canadian player ever to reach 10,000 career rushing yards.

“More than just the numbers, he’s certainly a presence. He ran hard, he made some guys miss, he lowered the shoulder and took contact and bounced up,” head coach Mike O’Shea said.

“Most importantly on a personal level, him being out here with his teammates, I think was extremely important to him, important to us as a team. It’s fun to watch — we’re all very pleased for him.”

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