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Veteran quarterback Harris to make second straight start for Montreal Alouettes

Montreal Alouettes quarterback Trevor Harris (17) looks on against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers during the first half of CFL action in Winnipeg on November 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Veteran Trevor Harris will make a second straight start Saturday night when the Montreal Alouettes host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Head coach Khari Jones made the declaration Wednesday during a videoconference.

Harris, 35, made his debut with Montreal (6-6) in last week's 31-21 road loss to Winnipeg (11-1). The six-foot-three, 212-pound Harris completed 14-of-25 passes for 177 yards with two TDs and two interceptions.

Jones's naming of Harris as his starter for this weekend's game isn't a surprise. Fourth-year player Matt Shiltz (knee) didn't practise Tuesday and Jones said while Shiltz was at Wednesday's session, he worked on his own.

Facing the same team in consecutive weeks should help Harris in his preparation for Winnipeg. But Jones said a bigger benefit for the 10-year veteran — who Montreal acquired from Edmonton on Oct. 17 — is having time to get further acclimated to his new teammates.

"I just think it helps him to learn the guys around him on our team," Jones said. "This is a pretty quick turnaround for him.

"I thought he did a really good job (last week) and he's just a smart guy and a good leader. I think it helps doing against Winnipeg but I think it just helps being in a game situation with our group again."

Montreal dealt for Harris five days after placing incumbent Vernon Adams Jr. (left shoulder) on the six-game injured list. Jones reiterated the Alouettes aren't expecting Adams Jr. to return before the end of the 2021 season.

"I'm not really counting on Vernon to be available to us for the season," said Jones, a former CFL quarterback who was the league's outstanding player in 2001 while with Winnipeg. "From what I understand even when it's healed it takes some rehab and I think the rehab is a little longer than the time we have."

The prognosis for Shiltz, though, appeared more favourable.

"Matt, I do expect back at some point," Jones said. "Hopefully we get him back pretty soon and then we see from there."

Despite Harris's brief time with Montreal, Jones has been pleased with Harris's ability to grasp the Alouettes' offence.

"I'm glad he's a veteran and is as smart as he is because he's picked it up pretty quickly and he's rolling," Jones said. "I feel pretty comfortable with most things that I'd normally call for Vernon or Matt.

"I feel good … and I think he has a good feel for things."

Harris's first game with Montreal came against the CFL's stingiest defence. Winnipeg leads the league in fewest offensive points allowed (11.6 per game), offensive TDs (11), net offensive yards (286.6), turnovers forced (36), interceptions (15) and fumble recoveries (10).

"It's about tightening up the details … it starts with me," Harris said. "I'm going to be better in certain situations where we can move the ball and capitalize on certain coverages that they play.

"That's a good defence and a good team and they're going to make it tough on but we plan on making it tough on them as well."

Winnipeg's offence isn't exactly chopped liver, either, as it leads the CFL in offensive points (24.7 per game), TDs (33) and stands second to Montreal (381.7) in net yards (367.5). But the Bombers have also allowed a league-low 15 sacks, made the fewest turnovers (14) and scored a league-high 91 points off turnovers.

Montreal is currently third in the East Division behind the Toronto Argonauts (8-4) and Hamilton Tiger-Cats (7-5), who square off Friday. All three teams have clinched playoff spots although they continue to battle for overall seeding.

Harris remains confident he has enough time to develop a deeper chemistry with Montreal's receiving corps.

"I think the biggest thing that sticks out about them is unselfishness," Harris said. "They're all about the team, they're all about each other and anytime as a quarterback if you have a receiving corps that's that way and the leaders of that group are that way, that's how you know you're going to have a great year.

"I do think we have enough time to get this thing rolling and cooking with oil before the playoffs get here."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 9. 2021.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2021
The Canadian Press

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