The Edmonton Elks held their final practice on Wednesday before their first scheduled pre-season game in Winnipeg on Friday against the Grey Cup champion Blue Bombers.
Following practice, head coach Chris Jones expressed his frustration over a session that was not to his liking, saying if the day was indicative of where they are as a team, the players are “not very far along.”
“We didn’t do a good job coaching today and we certainly didn’t do a good enough job of getting on the field and making sure we were ready mentally to do what is necessary to win a pro football game, and to evaluate quite honestly, it’s kind of frustrating at this juncture but I guess that’s part of pro football, it’s our job to coach them.”
The unfortunate reality of this training camp is there is a cloud of uncertainty surrounding the tentative deal for a new collective bargaining agreement which was voted down by the players on Monday night.
On Tuesday, the CFL submitted another offer to the players which saw adjustments made to the ratio and a ratification bonus of $1 million.
The league set a deadline of 10 p.m. MST on Thursday night for the players to accept the offer or risk training camps being shut down and games being lost starting on Friday.
In the meantime, it’s business as usual for all CFL teams. But is it easy for CFL player to put away the distraction of CBA negotiation? Elks linebacker Adam Konar says in training camp, it’s actually easy to just focus on football.
“You have enough stuff to focus on. Just trying to make a team, focusing on your playbook, focusing on working hard and trying to do the right things,” Konar said.
“It’s hard to focus on more than one thing, especially during training camp. A lot of guys are not even thinking about the CBA, although it is in the back of your mind, but you can’t let it distract you from trying to make a team and do your job.”
The Elks player reps are David Beard and Aaron Grymes, their role is to inform the players on the latest in CBA negotiations. Jones says his job is to simply get out of the way and let both players go about their business.
“They have been excellent to work with and are just outstanding individuals,” Jones said. “I told them, there’s nothing adversarial between the coaches and players. This is something that is way above us, so we’re just like the players and are just figuring what the process is of when we are going to practice, when we’re not going to practice, when we’re going to play a game, and when we’re not going to play a game.
“We just show up as coaches just like the players do and put the blinders on. We’re hoping we can get this resolved so we can play some ball.”
The Elks and Bombers are scheduled to kickoff at 6:30 p.m. from IG Field in Winnipeg. 630 CHED will have live coverage starting with Countdown to Kick-off at 5 p.m.