Edmonton Elks starting quarterback Trevor Harris summed up the first practice as a team in 20 months on Sunday afternoon.
“I felt like a 10-year-old kid again.”
After missing the entire 2020 CFL season, it’s game on for 2021 as the nine teams across the league, including the Elks, kicked off training camp this weekend.
One hundred players took to The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium for their first on-field session of training camp after conducting meetings and a short walkthrough on Saturday.
Training camp will be three weeks long with two scrimmages scheduled. The scrimmages will serve as pre-season games since none have been scheduled before the start of the regular season on Aug. 5.
Sunday also ushered in a new era for Jamie Elizondo, who is now a CFL head coach for the first time in his professional football career.
Elizondo says it will take some time before he can see players separating themselves from others but he liked what he saw from the first practice of the season.
“The first thing that we were looking for today is who can do everything that we asked them to do?” Elizondo said.
“Who had all of their chin-straps buckled and all the little details that ultimately cause you to win or lose games.
“The details matter in football and that’s the first part of evaluation. The second part is we’re going to turn on the film right now and see how guys moved and how guys reacted.”
Elks QB Trevor Harris on what the first day of camp was like after 20 months away.
Vontae Diggs LB 6’2″ 230 lbs Connecticut
The 26 year old was a big success in his first season in the CFL. The Downers Grove, Illinois native played in all 18 games in 2019, starting 16 at linebacker.
The Elks Rookie of the Year nominee finished eighth in total tackles in the CFL, with 73 defensive tackles along with 11 more on special teams.
Diggs trailed only Larry Dean in tackles on the Elks in 2019, and this year may be called upon to replace Dean at middle linebacker.
“He was the total package at linebacker for us,” Diggs said. “I got big shoes to fill there.”
In his second season, his position is not the only change for Diggs; he has switched numbers, from 43 to 13, the number he wore in college. That 13 will be on the new branded Elks uniform, a change he is on board with.
“The helmets look dope,” he said after the team’s first full workout on The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium Sunday.
“We haven’t really seen the jersey too much yet but everything looks great.
“This doesn’t change the way we play, it doesn’t change nothing about us. We are still going to be a bunch of nasty guys to play against. Defensively, we are still going to get after the ball, and the quarterback… Nothing is changing but the name.”
Elks receiver Derel Walker arrived in Edmonton on Sunday morning and is currently going through the COVID-19 protocols, which include a seven-day quarantine.
Quarterback Trevor Harris is looking forward to working with the two-time CFL and three-time West Division All-Star.
“Obviously we’re just excited that he’s in town and he’s going to be getting this week done,” Harris said. “He’s going to be attending the (virtual) meetings and we’re going to continue to talk to him about what he sees on the film and make sure we’re on the same page and work him in slowly when he comes back.”
The Elks brought in some veteran experience to their tackle position on Sunday with the signing of offensive lineman Thaddeus Coleman.
The seven-year CFL veteran spent three season in Edmonton between 2013 and 2015. He’s spent the last four seasons with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
He is currently on the Elks suspended list and currently going through the COVID-19 protocols and seven-day quarantine period.
The Elks are back on The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium at 10 a.m. Monday morning. All training camp sessions are closed to the public.