Star running back Andrew Harris sat on the bench in sweatpants and a sweatshirt for a large portion of Sunday’s practice while 23-year-old fellow Winnipegger Brady Oliveira took the first team reps.
Harris has been sidelined since Day 2 of training camp and the Blue Bombers open the season this Thursday at IG Field against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in a rematch of the 2019 Grey Cup — a game in which Harris dominated.
“I certainly don’t mind playing a guy who hasn’t practiced,” said Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea on Sunday.
“That doesn’t bother me in the least.”
O’Shea continues to downplay the situation and hold his cards close to the chest as he wouldn’t rule Harris (calf) out for Thursday, same with wide receiver Darvin Adams (shoulder) or linebacker Kyrie Wilson (thigh), but at this point it seems doubtful any of them will play. Rookie Jontrell Rocquemore was filling in for Wilson at weak-side linebacker on Sunday.
“I don’t ever do that. You know me, I don’t ever rule guys out. If they think there’s a chance, I give them that opportunity,” O’Shea said.
OLIVEIRA IS READY
After missing essentially all of his rookie season in 2019 with a broken ankle and not having the opportunity to bounce back in 2020 owing to the cancelled campaign, Brady Oliveira has had his patience tested.
But after working with the first team offence on Sunday for the first day of practice for Week 1, it appears the University of North Dakota product might be in line for the opportunity of a lifetime on Thursday in what will go down as one of the most meaningful games in Blue Bombers history.
“Even just stepping onto the field, running through the tunnel and now having fans for the first game is super exciting,” Oliveira said following Sunday’s practice. “And having family members and friends being there and supporting me, I’m just super-excited at getting another shot at playing a game. It’s a great feeling for me also being that I’m a Winnipeg guy and knowing that my mom is going to be there watching me and having all my friends there, it’s going to be an exciting time.”
However, the Oak Park High School grad isn’t making assumptions about his role for this week just yet.
“If it happens, great, I’m definitely prepared for it,” he said. “It’s going to truly be a blessing. It being the home opener, having the (Grey Cup) banner being dropped, me being from Winnipeg is going to be a special moment. But I still don’t want to get too far ahead, I want to take it day by day.”
MASOLI GETTING THE START
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats announced Sunday that quarterback Jeremiah Masoli will get the start on Thursday in Winnipeg over Dane Evans.
After getting Hamilton off to a 5-1 start, Masoli tore his ACL against the Bombers on July 26, 2019, and missed the rest of the season. Evans took over and led the team to a franchise best 15-3 record and a Grey Cup appearance against Winnipeg. Evans fell flat in the championship game as he completed 16 of 27 passes for 203 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions in the loss.
Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.
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