OTTAWA — The Trevor Harris insurance policy is paying early dividends for the Ottawa Redblacks.
Harris will make his first start as quarterback for Ottawa against the Montreal Alouettes Thursday night as starter Henry Burris recovers from a hand injury.
Burris, last year’s Most Outstanding Player, injured his pinky finger on his throwing hand during Saturday's 45-37 win over the Edmonton Eskimos and was placed on the one-game injured list Monday.
It marks the first time in nine years that Burris will miss a start due to injury.
The 41-year-old suffered the injury in the third quarter on a play-action as his hand hit a helmet, and on the next play Burris struggled to handle the snap and fell on the ball. Burris was 23-for-31 for 251 yards and one TD.
Burris will see a hand specialist Tuesday and is hopeful to return to action sooner rather than later.
"You want to be smart when making a decision on your body and especially this early in the season on when to try to push it and when not to push it," Burris said. "If it's something that could be short term you don't want to turn it into a long-term problem."
Signing Harris in the off-season was supposed to be insurance for the Redblacks future, but his timeline has moved up significantly due to this latest injury.
Harris finished the game 17-of-19 for 292 yards and three touchdowns.
"He did a great job, we didn't miss a beat," said Ottawa GM Marcel Desjardins. "Henry had been playing at a very high level and he just stepped in and ran with it and did a great job. We're fortunate to be in that position.
"I knew (signing him) was an extremely smart decision back in February so this is justification."
The 30-year-old Harris admitted he expected to treat this year like a red-shirt season playing behind Burris.
"When you play behind ironman, he just never gets hurt and he got a freak accident with a finger and obviously I wasn't expecting to play early on, but the time's here and you’ve got to be ready to go at any time."
Harris was thrown into a similar scenario last season while playing with Toronto, when he was given the starter's role as Ricky Ray recovered from off-season shoulder surgery. He ended up throwing for 4,354 yards and 33 touchdowns.
Despite having a short week to prepare, Harris feels comfortable taking over.
"I prepare every single week like I'm going to play. I was looking at this year more as a learning year, but you get thrust into a starting role and I'm excited about it. Obviously that's why we play the game is to play."
Redblacks coach Rick Campbell says he's confident the offence will have no trouble making the transition from Burris to Harris.
"I give both Henry and Trevor credit because they work well together, they try to help each other," said Campbell. "The other part is Trevor prepares like he's going to play the game, like he's starting. I know we always use that cliche that you always have to prepare like you're going to start, but he does and the proof of that is he came in the game right away and you could tell he was good to go. He understands this offence so we're hoping we don't skip a beat."
Notes: The Redblacks signed K Zach Medeiros, who was added to the active roster and could play Thursday. DL Matt Acree, DB Jean-Philippe Bolduc and RB Mossis Madu were also signed and added to the practice roster.