After a few days off, the Edmonton Elks returned to practice on Friday as they prepare for a rare Tuesday night CFL game in our nation’s capital against the Ottawa Redblacks.
The Elks’ last game was Sept. 18 on The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium, a 37-22 loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The Elks managed to erase a 14-0 deficit, and at one point, had the lead against the CFL’s best team. The game turned in the second half when two turnovers by the Elks resulted in two defensive touchdowns by the Bombers.
The Elks are 2-4 on the season and head coach Jamie Elizondo says the mistakes his team are making right now are proving to be very costly.
“We have to learn how not to lose before we can win,” he said. “Those penalties (we’ve taken) have proven to be crucial. You go back to the Ottawa game and we take a chop block penalty that takes points off the board, a missed field goal where we take a penalty which keeps the drive alive for the opponent.
“It just seems like the mistakes we’ve been making have been crucial and are turning out to be difference-makers.”
Lisren below: Edmonton Elks head coach Jamie Elizondo looks back on his team’s 37-22 loss to the Bombers.
In the loss to the Bombers, 26-year-old quarterback Taylor Cornelius made his first CFL start in place of Trevor Harris who is currently on the team’s six-game injured list with a neck injury.
Cornelius completed 19 of 33 pass attempts for 243 yards passing and threw three interceptions — including one returned for a touchdown — and recorded a lost fumble which turned into a defensive touchdown for the Bombers.
Cornelius will get the start again this coming Tuesday in Ottawa against the Redblacks. In the leadup to the home game against the Bombers, Harris took the majority of reps before pulling himself near the end of Day 2 practice.
Cornelius only had one full day of reps with the first-team offence. He will start on Tuesday and said knowing that at the start of the prep week will help.
“Just getting those extra reps obviously with the receiver too and getting that timing down,” Cornelius said. “Getting to actually run all the plays we have for in that week is going to be helpful.”
Building some more chemistry with likes of Greg Ellingson and Derel Walker will be at the top of the list for Cornelius.
Ellingson caught three passes on four targets for 58 yards. Walker didn’t enjoy a very good evening in the loss to the Bombers. He caught just two passes for 34 yards and was targeted nine times. He was targeted twice in two of Cornelius’ three interceptions and dropped a sure reception.
“It’s always tough whenever you catch a ball and then you’re trying to get extra yards and your ball security isn’t up to par, then somebody hits you and then it comes out,” Walker said.
“It’s devastating and it’s a drive and momentum killer, so from that point it trickled down as far as turnovers. So I have to limit that in my game.”
LISTEN BELOW: Edmonton Elks receiver Derel Walker on his two-catch game on nine targets against the Bombers.
The last time the Elks played the Redblacks was in Week 1 of the season on Aug. 7 in Edmonton, a 16-12 loss to the Redblacks which happens to be Ottawa’s only win of the season.
Eilzondo said he expects to see an edge to his team on Tuesday in Ottawa.
“If we don’t, then I would be surprised,” he said. “I think we all look back on the Ottawa game and say we gave that one away.
“You can look at the Montreal game, the Calgary game and the Winnipeg (at home) and we feel like we gave two games away, with Ottawa being one of them. I think everybody is still a little frustrated by that so I would expect us to come out full steam with a full tank of gas on Tuesday.”
Harris did some light work on the field on Friday after practice. Elizondo said there is still no timetable for a return for his No. 1 quarterback.
Defensive end Kwaku Boateng was limited during Friday’s practice because of a leg injury. Fellow defensive end Mathieu Betts didn’t take part as he’s dealing with a leg injury. Thomas Costigan, who played in Boateng’s place last Saturday, was limited in practice Friday with a shoulder injury.
The Elks made some roster moves on Friday by moving newly signed National defensive back Josh Woodman and National receiver Chris Osei-Kusi to the practice roster after both completed their mandatory quarantine. National defensive back Jermaine Gabriel was released after playing five games this season.
The Elks will visit the Ottawa Redblacks on Tuesday and you can hear the game on CISN Country (103.9 FM) starting with Countdown to Kickoff starting at 4:30 p.m. The opening kickoff will be at 5:30 p.m.