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Running backs Logan and Harris ready to roll for Lions

The Canadian Press

6/10/2014 7:27:13 PM

KAMLOOPS, B.C. -- The B.C. Lions turned to a familiar face when their ground game was in tatters late last season, and Stefan Logan is looking forward to once again exploiting his unique backfield partnership with Andrew Harris in 2014.

"It's like ketchup and mustard," Logan said of the Lions' running back duo. "If you don't have ketchup and mustard on your hamburger, it won't be any good."

Logan was a dynamic threat for the Lions in 2008 before jumping to the NFL, but when the phone stopped ringing with offers down south he decided on a return to his former CFL club.

"As I was at home waiting on calls I was working out and staying in shape and stuff like that," said Logan. "When I talked to the B.C. Lions I was more than willing to come up here and help us win games."

A leaky offensive line and a tendency to abandon the ground attack meant the Lions were without a 100-yard rusher for 11 straight contests in 2013, but the speedy Logan's injection into the lineup helped the situation improve almost overnight.

A more south-runner, Harris was no longer the only focus for defences, and both he and Logan found some traction as the Lions ran for almost 200 yards a game over the season's final three weeks.

"(Harris) does a lot of different things that I don't do," Logan said at training camp last week. "He's more of a downhill, patient runner and hits the hole. I'm more of a slasher, getting inside and outside.

"He has the ability to do certain things that I'm not that great at, and I can do certain things that he can't do. That's what makes it such a great running back (combination)."

Despite all the struggles last season, Harris still managed to rush for 998 yards and seven touchdowns. Clearly frustrated at times, the Winnipeg native never criticized his coaches or teammates and is now looking forward to having Logan as a backfield counterpart for a full season.

"It's going to be a great give-and-take scenario. Having two guys to spell each other and feed off each other ... any time he makes a play, I'm going to want to make a play," said Harris. "I think we both bring a different skill set and that's something we can utilize. Having us both on the field at the same time is going to create mismatches with linebackers and in the pass game as well.

"I think no matter what we do we're going to be productive."

Not unfamiliar with the spotlight of being a ball carrier after mainly returning kicks in the NFL, Logan had sympathy for Harris when things weren't going well last season.

"I understand when people point the finger at you and it's not your fault. It's not like his running style had changed or he started tipping (plays) or anything like that," said Logan. "When you've got people pointing the finger, it's always going to be towards you because you're running the ball.

"If guys miss a block, the fans don't see that. All they see is you."

Lions head coach Mike Benevides parted ways with offensive co-ordinator Jacques Chapdelaine after last season and replaced him with former CFL quarterback Khari Jones in hopes of reinvigorating a stagnant attack.

"What everybody's seen the last couple years in our league is you have to run the football," said Benevides. "Two years ago we were the best running team, last year we weren't but I think we showed an identity at the end of the season when we were running for 200 yards a game.

"With (Logan and Harris), you have two changeup guys. You have two elite players with different skill sets that can attack out of the backfield."

Jones has made it clear he wants to be aggressive, and with starting quarterback Travis Lulay still struggling to come back from shoulder surgery, the Lions could lean on Logan and Harris even more.

"It's going to give us some great options on offence," said Jones. "It's going to be our job as an offensive staff to find out how to best utilize those two guys and get them the ball in the right positions."

The Lions will host the Grey Cup in November, and with the CFL and its players' association now waiting to ratify a new labour agreement, the team is eager to see what a Logan-Harris backfield can do from the start.

"We're all about getting those positive yards and not putting that heat on our back. We want to put the team on our back to move forward," said Logan. "I felt (Harris's) pain last year and I wanted to come in and boost him up and let him know that it's going to be OK.

"I told him: 'You and I are going to be back here together and we're going to run this thing down their throat until the season is over."'