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This article was published 31/8/2018 (678 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
He’s 10 games into the 2018 regular season and Blue Bombers running back Andrew Harris is feeling the accumulated toll of the pounding he has absorbed.
The 31-year-old leads the CFL with 805 rushing yards on 140 carries and if he continues on his current pace, Harris will easily eclipse career highs for yards (1,112 in 2012) and carries (222 in 2015).
Consequently, he was given a two-day break from practice in this week’s run-up to Sunday’s Labour Day Classic in Regina.
"I just needed a couple of days to get some rest," Harris said. "I’ve been running quite a bit, you know, it’s mid-season right now, but I feel good. I feel solid.
"I could’ve practised yesterday, I could’ve practised Day 1, but it just shows the care and control that the coaching staff and training staff have to make sure I’m playing at the highest level possible on game day."
As good as his numbers have been, Saturday’s 39-26 loss in Calgary was a low point for Harris, who rushed the ball seven times for a meagre 13 yards — his worst numbers of 2018.
However, Harris did catch six passes for 51 yards.
"Last week was frustrating for sure," Harris said. "Any time you can’t get things going and you’re not on the field and you’re relying on your defence to get the ball back or put you in a good situation, it was definitely frustrating. The time of possession for us was not great and the number of plays we ran wasn’t great either.
"For us, we’ve gotta stay on the field, we’ve gotta be better on first down and accumulate better drives."
Harris admitted he gets a special boost from being able to play in pain.
"It’s not enjoying playing hurt, it’s the fact that you’re able to rise above it," he said. "Having that nick or not feeling 100 per cent, you don’t really think about the little things as much. You just go out and play. You’re so much more focused, I feel like."
Harris and the Blue Bombers will need to be particularly focused Sunday. Mosaic Stadium is an intimidating place and the Labour Day Classic usually brings out the worst — or best — Saskatchewan fans can deliver.
"You’ve gotta score points and you’ve gotta make plays," said Harris, who had 80 yards on 15 carries during Winnipeg’s 28-25 Labour Day win in 2016. "That’s the biggest way to shut them up and eliminate that crowd. You’ve gotta get on them early, you’ve gotta be successful early and that takes them out of the game."
Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.
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