Facing the 5-1 Winnipeg Blue Bombers in three of the next four games was going to a be tough task for the Edmonton Elks even with Trevor Harris at quarterback.
Now the Elks face the reality of not having their number one pivot in the lineup for the foreseeable future.
Harris has been placed on the team’s six-game injured list with a neck injury.
He suffered the injury during the Labour Day Rematch game last Saturday against the Calgary Stampeders. He was cleared to return and finished the game. He was then cleared to participate in practice but removed himself on Wednesday after feeling discomfort.
Elks general manager Brock Sunderland was asked if there’s a timetable for Harris’ return.
“No, and that’s why he’s on the six-game, because any type of injury like this is unpredictable and just don’t know,” Sunderland said.
“These are (injuries) you don’t rush.
“If it was an ankle, a knee or a shoulder you’re very eager to say: ‘Maybe you can get through and maybe you try to.’ Anytime you’re dealing with a head or neck situation, it’s the polar opposite.”
Harris was leading the CFL in passing yards, with 1,481 yards.
Now the starting quarterback reigns have been handed to 26-year-old rookie Taylor Cornelius, with the announcement coming Thursday following practice, on his birthday, no less.
“It’s a nice Happy Birthday present,” Cornelius said. “I’ve been getting a bunch of reps through training camp. Coming in for the first time in training camp is a little different getting used to all the waggles and motions I’ve got those down now and I’m ready to roll this week.”
Edmonton Elks quarterback Taylor Cornelius on his first CFL start on Saturday
Cornelius played college ball at Oklahoma State with Sherwood Park’s Chuba Hubbard.
Cornelius finds himself in the top-10 of many Oklahoma State records, including: single game passing yards (501) and touchdowns (5), single season passing yards (3,978) and touchdowns (32) and career passing yards (4,198) and touchdowns (32). His 42 combined touchdowns in 2018 tied a school record for most touchdowns in one season with former NFL running back and Pro Football Hall of Famer Barry Sanders.
Cornelius played in the XFL in 2020 with Tampa Bay Vipers, he appeared in five games (four starts) and recorded 858 passing yards, four touchdown passes and six interceptions. He also recorded 114 yards rushing and scored three touchdowns.
Elks head coach Jamie Elizondo was the offensive coordintor for the Vipers and knows Cornelius well.
“He has a lot of poise, obviously he has a cannon for an arm,” Elizondo said.
“He can make a throw into a tight window so he’s accurate.
“I think his composure, toughness, and he’s very even-keeled. The kid has played in some big environments like in Texas when he was the starting quarterback for Oklahoma State. He stuck a throw against Oklahoma to send the game into overtime (in 2018) against a big rival so he’s been in big environments.”
Edmonton Elks head coach Jamie Elizondo on the neck injury to Trevor Harris and Taylor Cornelius taking the starting quarterback role on Saturday
The Elks will host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Saturday night on The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium. The opening kick-off will be at 7:45 p.m.
630 CHED will have live coverage starting with Countdown to Kick-off at 6 p.m.