CFL Pass

Harris Ready To Return To Action

According to Trevor Harris, not being able to throw the football the past several weeks was akin to Spider-Man fighting crime without his web-slinging ability.

“It’s not like I’m a superhero or anything,” explained Harris, the Eskimos’ 33-year-old starting quarterback who hasn’t played for almost five full games. “But when you’re injured, and you can’t do it, it’s really weird.

“This is the longest I’ve ever been out (of the lineup due to injury) in football.”

Harris has been hurt before, but always tried to “power” his way past the injury, including a sprained medial collateral ligament (MCL) and high ankle sprain on the same play last year when he played with the Ottawa RedBlacks plus a hyperextended knee suffered earlier this season with the Eskimos.

“Those things you can gut (it out) as a quarterback,” Harris said. “It’s different than a running back or receiver where you have to run. But as a quarterback, as long as your right arm is intact, you can kind of gut (it out), obviously without (having) broken bones and those sort of things.

“It was strange,” he said about the right arm injury that landed him on the six-game injured list, which meant he couldn’t even practise with the team the last three weeks. “I’ve never had an injury where I literally couldn’t do it.

“But I’m just blessed to be back and thankful to be a part of this great organization and this team.”

Harris returned to practice on Monday and will be back in the Eskimos lineup for the first time in seven weeks when the Saskatchewan Roughriders visit The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium at 5 p.m. Saturday for the first half of a CFL regular season-ending home-and-home series.

It will be Edmonton’s final game on home turf this season.

“It’s great to have Trevor back,” said Head Coach Jason Maas. “We knew he was close. Even going into the last game against BC, we thought he might be able to go, and it just didn’t feel quite good enough.

“Thankfully, we took the extra week and now it ends up being two weeks extra (of rest, including the bye week) and he’ll be ready to play this week.”

Harris last played in the Labour Day Rematch against the Calgary Stampeders on Sept. 7 but had to leave that game early in the second quarter.

“I got hurt in the Winnipeg game (on Aug. 23),” he said. “I played through it, grinded through it, and it just kept progressively getting worse. Eventually, during that second Calgary game, my arm went, and there was nothing I could do.

“Sometime during the last week, I felt I really turned a corner to where the strength was coming back. I was able to throw the passes with touch, with velocity, with accuracy and on time and not thinking about it and no hesitation.

“I tried to get them to let me play (Oct. 12 versus the BC Lions), but (the Eskimos) were just being cautious, which looking back in hindsight was smart, but not for me. Obviously, I would rather have played, but here we are, and I’m just excited to be back.”

Harris was told by the Eskimos doctors at one point that there was a chance his injury might not respond to the rehabilitation treatments, and he might not be able to play again this season.

“I thought that was a really out-of-the-world possibility that I wouldn’t be back this year,” he admitted. “I felt very strongly that I would (be back). It was just a matter of taking time to heal, which is not something I felt I wanted to do – to take time.

“But Nate (Hay, the Eskimos’ head athletic therapist) did an outstanding job and Dr. (Dhiren) Naidu and the coaches in terms of telling me to be smart about this,” Harris said. “It’s not something you can power through. That’s what was tough for me.

“I haven’t played since Labour Day, really, but now I have the opportunity to come out here and play. But it’s really not about me. It’s about us as a unit, as a team, jelling well and getting this thing going. So here we are, just with two weeks left in the season. Hopefully, we can get this machine working with some oil and get rolling.”

The Eskimos, 8-8, clinched a playoff berth with a victory over the Lions two weeks ago, but that post-season appearance will be in the East Division Semi-Final against the Montreal Alouettes on Nov. 10 as the 12th West Division team to take advantage of the crossover rule since 1997.

“The fact that we took care of business as a team these last few weeks and made it into the playoffs … where we’re at is a good spot to be, we’re in the playoffs,”

Maas said. “We’ve just got to make sure we get healthy, get tuned up.

“We’d like (Harris) to get in and play a game. It’s been a while now. Even to get into practice because he hasn’t even been able to practice because he’s been on the six-game (injured list). For him to get back in the saddle, as they say, is a great thing.

“You want him continuing to play at a high level going into the playoffs, not rusty at all, seeing things, feeling comfortable,” Maas added. “The only way you’re going to do that, ultimately, is by getting in there and playing. So yes, the plan is to play him this week and then we’ll see what transpires from there.”

Maas acknowledged backup quarterback Logan Kilgore’s efforts to help the Eskimos secure a playoff berth.

“We needed to win a couple of games with Trevor out, and we accomplished those goals to get to the playoffs,” Maas said. “So that took a lot of pressure off Trevor, too, so Trevor could take the rest that he needs to take to come back at 100 per cent.

“Logan did a tremendous job leading us, playing tough, playing through things.”

Kilgore played in the last five games (starting four of them), for his first CFL action since playing in seven games with the Toronto Argonauts in 2016. He said he feels “a little sense of pride knowing that I had a small part in getting us to one of our goals this year.”

While he won’t be taking all of the first-team practice repetitions or playing in this week’s game, Kilgore said his role will remain very similar from a mental standpoint “going through the same things that we always do meeting-wise and film study and study of our offence.

“But, just like any other week (when Harris is healthy enough to play), I have to prepare the same. I’ve got to help him any way I can and then always stay ready. I’ll continue to be there as much as he needs.”