Harris returns under centre for Eskimos looking to regain early season form

EDMONTON — After spending four games holding a clipboard and pacing the sidelines, Trevor Harris will be back where he’s far more comfortable on Saturday — in the middle of the action when the Edmonton Eskimos take on the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Commonwealth Stadium.

Activated from the six-game injured list Monday after missing four games with a nagging injury to his throwing arm, Harris will make his first start at quarterback since leaving during a 33-17 loss to the Calgary Stampeders on Sept. 7 — and not a moment too soon.

“I think it’s one of my negative traits that when I need patience, I don’t have it,” smiled Harris when asked if waiting to get back in has been difficult. “That was probably why, I think, maybe early on I thought I’d be back sooner.

“I was kind of lying to myself, you know, saying ‘I’m OK. I can do this. I can push through this’ because that’s what I’ve always done. I’ve been able to shove though injuries and do what I need to do, but when you’re talking about an arm injury, an arm being hurt, it’s different. It needs time to heal. It was humbling.”

With Harris out, the Eskimos went 2-2 under back-up Logan Kilgore, including a 19-6 win over the B.C. Lions Oct. 12 that secured Edmonton a playoff spot as the crossover team to the East Division semifinal.

Now, Harris gets two games in a home-and-home series with the Roughriders, who are coming off a 27-19 win over B.C., to knock the rust off before the Eskimos travel east to take on the Montreal Alouettes Nov. 10.

“It’s just, first, great to have your guy back,” head coach Jason Maas said. “At the end of the day we’ve got two quarterbacks now that have experience, that are vet guys coming down the stretch. That’s kind of what you want.

“It’s comforting to know that Trevor’s back and we’ve got Logan behind him.”

The Eskimos started the season 6-3 with Harris running the offence and they were 6-6 after losing to the Stampeders in the game that drove him to the sidelines because he could no longer grip the ball.

“He brings leadership. He brings preparation,” receiver Greg Ellingson said. “Everybody sees how he handles himself. He’s been itching to get back in … he’s definitely vocalized to me a few times how badly he wants to play football again.”

Harris still sits fourth in passing yards with 3,706 and sixth in touchdown passes with 15. The question now is if Harris can regain his early season form in back-to-back games against a tough Saskatchewan defence before that playoff date with the Alouettes.

“Pressure is what you put in tires, man,” Harris said when asked if he has any doubts that he can get back up to speed quickly. “I go out here and I just do what I do.

“I am who I am at this point in my career and I’m just going to go out there and just execute to the best of my ability. The guys in that locker room know they’re going to get my best every single play, every single week. That’s all I can do.”

SASKATCHEWAN (11-5) at EDMONTON (8-8)

Saturday, Commonwealth Stadium

FAJARDO FACTOR — With two games to play, Saskatchewan quarterback Cody Fajardo sits second in passing yards with 3,873 behind B.C.’s Mike Reilly, who has 3,897 but is out for the rest of the season. Toronto’s McLeod Bethel-Thompson is third at 3,826 going into action against Ottawa Saturday. Fajardo signed a two-year contract extension Monday.

TOUGH D — Saskatchewan’s defence was dominant in the win over B.C., limiting the Lions to 262 yards total offence, 189 yards passing and one touchdown. The Roughriders recorded six sacks, forced two fumbles and had an interception by Elie Bouka. Twelve of B.C.’s points came via four field goals by Sergio Castillo.

FLAG FOOTBALL — Penalties continue to be a problem for the Eskimos. They were flagged for a season-high 170 yards on 14 penalties against the Lions and they lead the CFL with 1,523 yards on 182 penalties — an average 11 flags and 95 yards a game.

RESURGENCE — Despite missing three games with a calf injury to start his first season in Regina, linebacker Soloman Elimimian is third in the league with 82 tackles. The 33-year trails only Simoni Lawrence of Hamilton and Montreal’s Henoc Muamba.

SO CLOSE — Running back C.J. Gable will miss his second straight game on the injured list. Shaq Cooper will again take his place. Gable is sitting with 204 carries for 997 yards. His status for the game against the Roughriders in Regina is TBA.

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