Argos see stopping ‘Old guy’ Harris as key to success


Argos see stopping ‘Old guy’ Harris as key to success

TORONTO —  – 

The way the Toronto Argonauts see it, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers may have injury problems, but at least they still have Andrew Harris.

“I think he’s the key guy,” Argos coach Marc Trestman said. “He’s not only a great runner, he’s a great pass-catcher as well. We’ve got our work cut out for us. He’s a game-breaking player with a great skill set both running and catching the football.”

Harris has been one of the most dangerous weapons in the CFL this season, rushing for 871 yards and catching 94 passes for 816 yards through 15 games.

At his current pace he has a chance to become the first player in CFL history to record 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving in the same season.

If he catches eight passes on Saturday afternoon at BMO Field, Harris will tie the CFL record for receptions by a running back (102, set by Craig Ellis of the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 1985).

The Argos have a similar weapon in James Wilder, Jr., a rookie who has been racking up the rushing and receiving yards since taking over as the feature running back on Sept. 16.

He hopes to match or better the Bombers star on Saturday,

“He’s a great back and he’s been doing it for a long time,” the 25-year-old Wilder said of the 30-year-old Harris.

“I hope we can make it a friendly competition to see who can put up more numbers, the old versus the young I guess.”

Harris chuckled when told about Wilder’s comment.

“I’m the old guy?” he said. “I still feel young so I take that as a huge insult.

“For me, the yardage is one thing, the win is the more important thing. If he gets more yards and we win, then we win overall.”

PULLING FOR CRAIG

The Bombers announced Friday that national scout Craig Smith has been diagnosed with acute leukemia and immediately began treatment.

Smith, who lives in Regina, is responsible for scouting Canadian players and is a big part of the Bombers CFL draft team.

Smith issued a statement through the team on Friday.

“In this very difficult time, the outpouring of support from the Bomber and CFL families has been nothing short of astonishing,” Smith said. “The messages from friends and members of the football community have shown that if anything, my wife Cathy and I are surrounded by a network of incredible people giving us strength through their notes and well wishes. We’d like to thank everyone who has already reached out, and I hope to be back on the field soon, stronger than ever.”

RAY HAS RESPECT

Argos quarterback Ricky Ray, who turns 38 on Sunday, has a great deal of respect for Bombers pivot Matt Nichols.

The two quarterbacks hail from the same area of northern California — Ray lives in Redding and Nichols is from nearby Cottonwood — and were both with the Edmonton Eskimos in 2010 and 2011.

“His first year he came in we played together,” Ray said. “We’re from the same area but he’s a few years younger than me (Nichols is 30). We built a relationship from that time and we have kept in touch. We worked out a bit together this off-season. “He’s a great guy and I’m proud to say we’re from the same area of northern California.”

Ray, who could surpass 60,000 passing yards in his career with a big game on Saturday and who is surefire Hall of Famer, sees great qualities in his younger counterpart.

“They do rally behind him,” Ray said. “He’s one of those guys who plays really well and gives their team a lot of confidence. Just watching him on film, you can see that the team has a lot of confidence in him because he’s out there doing a lot of great things for them.”

The respect from is mutual.

“He lives on the golf course that I grew up playing,” Nichols said. “We got a workout in this off-season. I thought we were going out to play a bit of catch and he put me through about an hour of footwork drills and had me breathing pretty hard.

“He’s a great guy to be around. He’s extremely funny and I always try to pick his brain.”

RUNNING WILDER

Wilder felt like wearing pink shoes, gloves and towels was simply not enough.

The 25-year-old CFL rookie marked breast cancer awareness month by establishing the #runWILDERforacure campaign to raise funds in a creative fashion.

Wilder promised to donate $1 for every yard he gains in October and $100 for every touchdown. He then issued a challenge to other pro running backs to do the same.

There are not 11 running backs — seven in the CFL and four in the NFL — who have taken up the challenge.

“We’re at $2,400 right now with two more weeks to go,” said Wilder, who missed the last Argos game with an injury. “It’s really for the research of breast cancer and to help those who are out there fighting. We are just competing but they are fighting for their lives. This is something where we can actually take action and we can go out there and put our money where our mouth is.”

Wilder has played only one game in October, but he gained 72 yards rushing and 89 receiving. He did not record a touchdown.

“It was just an idea,” Wilder said. “I don’t know where it came from. It was just the month for breast cancer awareness and wearing pink doesn’t really do anything, so I thought of a way that we could take action and hit up a few guys.

“Once I started the campaign a few guys hit me up and wanted to be a part of it.”

GREEN AND BLUE

Give S.J. Green credit — he knows the Winnipeg Blue Bombers recent history.

“This is the first time since I’ve been in the CFL that Winnipeg has posted two 10-plus win seasons back to back,” Green said as his Toronto Argonauts prepared to take on the Bombers on Saturday.

We should point out that Green has been in the CFL since 2007, so this has been a long time coming for the Bombers. Before this year, the last time they posted back-to-back 10-win seasons was 2002-03.

What that says to Green is this is a very strong Bombers team, one that has been built to last and has potential do some damage in the playoffs.

“It’s going to be a challenge for us,” he said.

“But I felt like the first game we played against Winnipeg (the Bombers won 33-25 at Investors Group Field on July 13) we left a lot of opportunities on the field. We gave up a big kick return, we had two return touchdowns — one got called back on a questionable flag — and we dropped three touchdowns that game.”

Twyman@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/Ted_Wyman 

Published at Fri, 20 Oct 2017 21:38:45 -0400