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Edmonton Elks carry on with training camp as timeline for strike looms

The Edmonton Elks practiced for a third straight day on The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium on Tuesday morning.

At present, the Elks and the Stampeders are the only teams practicing in training camp, while the seven other CFL teams walked off the job Sunday after the Collective Bargaining Agreement expired hours earlier.

The Alberta-based teams were not in a legal strike position on Sunday, and at first the CFL Players Association believed the Elks and Stampeders would be able to walk off the job on Wednesday.

But because strike votes from the two teams were not registered with the Alberta Labour Relations Board until Monday, it means the Elks and Stampeders are able to practice on Wednesday. It won’t be until Thursday or Friday until the two teams could make the work stoppage league-wide.

Read more: Edmonton Elks under cloud of labour uncertainty as 2022 training camp begins

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Elks offensive lineman and team player rep David Beard says at the moment, the Players Association is waiting to hear from the league to resume talks towards a new labour deal.

“As far as I understand, the P.A. is waiting to get back to the (bargaining) table,” Beard said. “We are ready and poised to do that (with the CFL).”

Edmonton Elks OL and CFLPA rep David Beard on the optics of practicing while teams are striking and concern about the May 27 game in Winnipeg

The Elks are scheduled to play the Blue Bombers in Winnipeg on Friday, May 27. It’s expected the CFL will either cancel or postpone the league’s first pre-season game on Victoria Day in Regina between the Riders and Bombers.

Beard says every day that passes with out a deal puts the Elks pre-season game in jeopardy.

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“It’s pretty precarious, I understand there are some deadlines but I can’t confidently say what those deadlines are for other teams and their games,” Beard said. “We’re in a very precarious position for sure.”

Smith released

Elks head coach and general manager Chris Jones made another surprise cut on Tuesday by releasing Canadian receiver Tevaun Smith.

The 28 year-old was a first round pick of the Elks from the 2016 CFL Draft. In 30 career games, Smith recorded 956 yards receiving with his best season coming in 2019 when he recorded 632 yards and scored six touchdowns.

Lawler stranded

Veteran defensive back Ed Gainey arrived in camp yesterday after travel delays, and running back James Wilder Jr. arrived in Edmonton on Tuesday morning after dealing with a passport issue.

Receiver Kenny Lawler has yet to arrive in Edmonton after dealing with a little car trouble in Montana.

“Unfortunately, the part the was supposed on his car is now installed and it only took about 30 minutes,” Jones said. “All of his belongings are in the car so, hopefully today he’s going to be able to roll in here.”

Edmonton Elks head coach Chris Jones on receiver Kenny Lawler’s travel issues and the first padded practice of camp

Lawler was a prized free-agent signing of the Elks after he played for the Bombers the last two seasons, and led the CFL in receiving yards in 2021 with 1,014 yards and six touchdowns.

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The Elks are expected to be back on the field Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. on The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium.

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