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Harris a double-barrelled threat

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SURREY, B.C. -- Andrew Harris is preparing to soar among the clouds at breakneck speed, but still striving to keep his ego on the ground.

The B.C. Lions running back is slated to ride along in a CF-18 jet during an air show next weekend in Abbotsford, B.C. It isn't difficult to get him talking about the subject.

"I'm a huge adrenaline junkie," said Harris after practice Thursday. "So I'm excited about that. I don't know how fast those things go exactly, or exactly how fast the guys go when I'm in it. But it's definitely going to be a crazy experience. It's an opportunity of a lifetime, for sure."

However, his selection as the CFL's Canadian player of the month for July -- the first in his career -- doesn't generate as much excitement. The 25-year-old Winnipeg native received the honour after catching two passes for touchdowns in a convincing 34-8 victory in Calgary.

"It's cool, it's an honour, but it's just one month of football," said Harris. "Obviously, those things are good to have in competition, but I'm the type of guy that just wants to keep on doing those things. We've still got four months of football left. It's about getting and, obviously, racking up these wins."

As the Lions (3-2) prepare to face the Toronto Argonauts (3-2) in the Ontario capital on Monday, Harris keeps rolling along on an unlikely rags-to-riches story. The former Vancouver Island Raiders standout rose through the Canadian junior ranks instead of university football to become a bona fide star at a tailback position usually reserved for imports. The player of the month honour came a day after he received the CFL player of the week award for the second time this season.

He ran for 55 yards against the Stampeders and gained an additional 37 on five receptions. One of his touchdowns came on a 19-yard pass along the sidelines in a play that one would usually expect a wide receiver to make.

Harris is proving to be a dual threat on the ground and in the air. His first CFL player of the week award came in the second week of the season as he romped for 147 rushing yards on 13 carries. He produced a combined 185 yards in another game, albeit a loss, to Edmonton.

He currently leads the league in combined yardage from scrimmage with 628. He is also ranked fourth in the league among running backs with 351 yards on 47 carries, and his average of 7.5 yards per carry tops the CFL.

True to form, he also takes his receiving success in stride, but admits the work he has put in on improving his timing and release off the ball, among other factors, is paying off.

"I don't think I've had a drop all year," he said. "So that's one thing I'm a little proud of."

With 277 receiving yards, he appears well on his way to surpassing the 395 he accumulated in 2011. But he shrugs off his receiving success.

"That's the CFL," said Harris. "If I'm getting nine or 10 carries (per game), that's pretty average, for a run game game anyways. That's what I'll gain in the run game, and you've gotta make up for it in the pass."

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 4, 2012 C3

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