The timing couldn’t be better for Andrew Harris to get back on the football field.
The Blue Bombers running back has recovered from a suspected ankle injury that sidelined him for three games in time to face his former B.C. team Saturday afternoon at Investors Group Field.
Winnipeg’s big free-agent signing has more friends than foes on the team that gave him his CFL start in 2010, but he expects to exchange some barbs once the whistle blows.
“Obviously, I’m going to have a couple of words with the guys, have a little fun with it, but it’s about getting first downs and getting points,” Harris said Friday after Winnipeg’s walk-through.
If he happens to plow past Lion defenders such as linebackers Solomon Elimimian and Adam Bighill, all the better.
“I was there when [Bighill] had his first training camp and I hated the guy because every time we’d be in no pads, he’d be giving me a charley horse or stepping on my feet or poking me in the eye,” Harris said.
“I’ve played with [Elimimian] a lot of years, too, so I know the type of players they are. I’m excited to play against them.”
Harris has 149 carries for 677 yards and four touchdowns. Elimimian leads the league in defensive tackles with 100, while Bighill is third with 90.
“It’s funny, we do have a pretty good history of some battles in practice, all in good fun and competition,” Bighill said of Harris. “It’s going to be fun to play against Andrew and I’m sure he feels the same way.”
Elimimian didn’t mind the chilly weather forecast for the game, especially if it means Harris will get the ball more.
“He was a star running back for the B.C. Lions for several years so we couldn’t touch him, so now’s our opportunity to actually touch him,” Elimimian said with a laugh.
“Andrew’s a great player, man. He’s one of the most explosive players I’ve been around. He can run, he can catch, he can block and he’s a great person. But it’s going to be fun to finally be able to go at it with him. It’s going to be a challenge and we’re excited.”
Harris’s return comes at a time when the Bombers (8-6) could use a boost after losing their past two games following a seven-game winning streak.
The team is also dealing with the CFL announcement Friday afternoon that defensive back Bruce Johnson was suspended immediately for two games after testing positive for the banned substance methylenedioxyamphetamine.
The Lions (9-4) sit in second place in the West Division and a win against Winnipeg will clinch a playoff spot for the 20th successive season.
B.C. is coming off a victory over Ottawa and has only lost one of its past five games, and are 5-2 on the road.
Both teams’ defences need rebound outings after giving up big chunks of yardage the past two outings, while Winnipeg has to do an about-face from the 15 penalties for 166 yards it was dinged with in last week’s 40-26 loss to Edmonton.
Winnipeg defensive back Kevin Fogg said cleaning up the penalties is a must this game.
“That has been a key point [this week] because we know that it has been a big thing for us, especially these past two games and what we’ve given up and what we’ve done just to hurt ourselves,” he said.
Fogg had a fourth punt return TD this season wiped out last game because of a flag.