Edmonton Elks trim roster by 16; Diggs and Lemon among those released

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Who are your Edmonton Elks all-time all-stars? It's time to create your dream roster: special teams, defensive line, linebackers, defensive backs, offensive line, and one running back, receiver and quarterback. Kevin Karius shares the shortlist for quarterback and receivers – Jul 20, 2021

On Thursday, the Edmonton Elks changed their training camp schedule from an on-field practice to a “regeneration day” and in the process, made their final roster cuts.

The Elks said goodbye to 16 players in total:

LB Vontae Diggs
DE Shawn Lemon
OL Thaddeus Coleman
REC Kenny Shaw
DB Jordan Beaulieu
FB Peter Cender
DB Caleb Ham
DB Robert Priester
REC Malik Richards
DB Kieron Williams
OL Erick Browne
DL Justin Cates
OL O’Shea Dugas
RB Tarean Folston
DB TJ Mutcherson
DB Nick Pickett

Read more: Edmonton Elks head coach praises defence: ‘They are the tone-setters’

The two biggest names on list of players released is veteran defensive end Shawn Lemon, who has 70 career quarterback sacks and two Grey Cup championship rings.

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Also, linebacker Vontae Diggs, who recorded 73 defensive tackles in 2019 and was the team’s nominee for Most Outstanding Rookie in the CFL.

Edmonton Elks general manger and vice-president of football operations Brock Sunderland says releasing both was a matter of having better behind them.

“Very simple: we felt there were players that out-played them, nothing more than that, and nothing less than that,” Sunderland said.

“We thought that they played better and same on the defensive line. We have two other rookie American defensive ends that we felt played better than Shawn.

“It’s not that they’re bad football players. It’s a good problem to have when you have younger guys in training camp you think are better. Both Vontae and Shawn are very good football players and both are great people.”


Edmonton Elks HC Jamie Elizondo on the play of young LB’s Nyles Morgan and Kieshawn Bierria

Lemon couldn’t get past Canadian Matheiu Betts for one starting spot on the defensive line opposite Kwaku Boateng.

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Linebackers Kieshwan Bierria and Nyles Morgan beat out Diggs for a job. Both players spent most of training camp with the starting defensive group.

Head coach Jamie Elizondo says Diggs took the news with a lot class.

“Vontae brings a lot of energy into the room and he did a great job leading the young guys,” Elizondo said. “He’s one of the most high-character guys that we have so that made the decision that much tougher.

“He couldn’t have handled the news any better.”


Edmonton Elks GM Brock Sunderland on status of injuries to a handful of players

The Elks also placed 17 players on the team’s practice roster:

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REC Diego Viamontes
LB Maxime Rouyer
REC Jalen Tolliver
LB Brandon Pittman
DL Misiona Aiolupotea-Pei
DL Andrew Ankrah
K Dante Brown
DL Thomas Costigan
OL D’Antne Demery
REC Earnest Edwards
OL Chris Gangarossa
OL Tyler Higby
DL Reggie Howard
REC JJ Jones
DB Afolabi Laguda
DB Nafees Lyon
DB Albert Smalls

The Elks will hold a short practice on Friday to end training camp.

Their season-opener will be on Aug. 7 when they welcome the Ottawa Redblacks to The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium.

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