Edmonton Elks face a steep climb if they hope to make the playoffs

Members of the Edmonton Elks gather post-practice on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021. Dave Campbell/630 CHED

The Edmonton Elks returned to the practice field off their bye week on Sunday as they look ahead to the final five games of the season.

The team has lost five games in a row and sits with a 2-7 record, dead last in the West Division.

The Elks are still mathematically alive for a playoff spot, but they will now have likely to run the table and win their final five games starting with Friday’s home matchup against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

The Elks follow Friday’s game with a home-and-home set with the Saskatchewan Roughriders and then road games against the Toronto Argonauts and the B.C. Lions.

Read more: QB Taylor Cornelius to lead Edmonton as Elks try to break four-game losing streak

Head coach Jamie Elizondo says the climb won’t be easy but believes his team can still make a run.

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“We have two missions, and the first mission has five targets,” Elizondo said.

“If you look at those five targets, those teams are either at or below or slightly above the .500 mark. If it comes close and we can win those five games, then we have the tie-breaker over Hamilton. If we beat Saskatchewan twice, then we have the tie-breaker over Saskatchewan. If we beat Toronto, then we will have, if it comes down to it, the tie-breaker over Toronto. If we beat B.C., then we will have the tie-breaker over B.C., so there’s a lot of tie-breakers in play still.”

Moving on from Trevor Harris

Last Sunday, the Elks traded quarterback Trevor Harris to the Montreal Alouettes in exchange for American defensive end Antonio Simmons.

For veteran receiver Greg Ellingson, it’s now the first time he won’t be on the same team as Harris since the 2015 season. He says it’s tough to see a good friend leave but he understands the business.

“We have a lot of memories, especially in Ottawa and here in 2019, but that’s part of the business,” Ellingson said.

“The front office has their job to do, and my job is to make plays as a receiver. This is my team and this is where I’m at right now, so I’m going to back everything (Elks’ management) do and I’m going to go out and try to get wins.”

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The trade of Harris now means Taylor Cornelius is the Elks’ starting quarterback. He will start in his fourth game of the season on Friday night against the Tiger-Cats. Cornelius says he simply wants to move forward and give the team the best chance to win.

“I’m just excited to move forward,” Cornelius said. “I’m ready to get these next five games under our belt and see where we’re at, come the end of the season.”

In his third start of the season in a 26-16 loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Oct. 15, Cornelius completed 17 of 29 pass attempts for 187 yards passing and threw one touchdown pass, his fourth of the season. Overall, Cornelius has passed for 811 yards throwing four touchdown passes to six interceptions in four games played.

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Simmons ready for a new start

Elks defensive end Simmons practised with his new team on Sunday after the Alouettes sent him to Edmonton in exchange for Harris. Simmons, who has seven defensive tackles and two sacks this season, says he wasn’t too surprised the Alouettes shipped him out.

“How it went the last two weeks when I was there, yeah I wasn’t surprised with how it went down,” Simmons said. “It’s a clean slate, and I’m happy that I get a fresh start. What happened in Montreal will stay in Montreal, and I’m just ready to move on.”

Read more: Elks trade QB Trevor Harris to Montreal leaving Cornelius as the starter

In 2019, Simmons recorded 45 defensive tackles and seven sacks in his first season with the Alouettes.

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The Elks host the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Friday night on The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium. Kick-off will be at 7:45 p.m. 630 CHED will have Countdown to Kick-off starting at 6 p.m.

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