Coach's passing grim reminder for Bombers FB

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:42 AM ET

WINNIPEG - When Richard Harris passed away on July 26, it wasn’t the first time Bombers fullback James Green had to deal with death on his football team.

In 2004, when he was a junior star with the BCFC’s Okanagan Sun, Green was in the locker-room when teammate Jeff Halvorson collapsed and died due to heart failure after a practice.

Green was still in the Bomber complex when Harris, Winnipeg’s defensive line and assistant head coach, collapsed and died in his office last month. He immediately thought of Halvorson.

“As soon as it happened I kind of reverted back to the situation with Halvy,” Green told the Okanagan Sun website. “We were in the locker-room, there weren’t many of us there, and the next thing I know one of the coaches comes in and tells us coach Harris is down on the ground and he isn’t breathing.

“The first thing I thought of was Halvy, and I remember he wasn’t breathing. I looked in and I saw the same type of look on (Harris’) face, and it was the same type of thing I remember about Halvy, so I knew it wasn’t good. I just thought, oh God.”

Green was close to Harris, just as every Bomber player seemed to be, but they had a special relationship for a reason. Green’s father, who was a gospel musician, passed away on the day he signed with Winnipeg last season. Harris, of course, was there for support.

“He was there for me then. He was very caring,” Green told the website. “He was from the same area my dad was (in Louisiana), his mom was from the same area my grandma was. We talked a lot that day.

“He was very supportive, and after that he was always there for me in any type of situation. We talked a lot, but he talked with everybody. People were drawn to him for sure.”

FRITZ LIKE A GLOVE: Expect the Bombers to travel to B.C. this weekend without their two starting defensive tackles.

Dorian Smith has a high ankle sprain and definitely won’t play on Saturday at Empire Field against the Lions, while Doug Brown (foot) didn’t practise and sounds very doubtful for the contest.

“Maybe if we get him on the field Day 3, but we’re not going to rush it, obviously, especially going into the bye,” coach Paul LaPolice said.

In an effort to shore up their defensive line depth, the Bombers added defensive lineman Rodney Fritz to their practice roster. Fritz, 24, is a 6-foot-1, 260-pound Kansas City native who played at Tennessee State and spent last winter with the Huntington Hammer of the Ultimate Indoor Football League.

Defensive end Jason Vega, who has missed the last four games due to a knee injury, worked out on the interior of the defensive line on Tuesday and will likely return to the lineup this weekend.

“We’ve got the talent to still rush the passer with the interior guys,” LaPolice said.

LATE HITS: Cornerbacks Jovon Johnson (ankle) and Deon Beasley (hip) didn’t practise Tuesday, but their injuries aren’t believed to be serious … The CFL players of the week are Montreal’s Anthony Calvillo (offence), B.C.’s Solomon Elimimian (defence), Calgary’s Larry Taylor (special teams) and Edmonton’s Jerome Messam (Canadian).


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