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Elks move into final week of training camp with tough decisions ahead

Edmonton Elks head coach Chris Jones on the sideline during the first half of pre-season CFL action against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in Winnipeg, Friday, May 27, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

After a day of rest following a 30-20 pre-season win in Winnipeg on Friday, the Edmonton Elks were back on The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium on Sunday as the final week of training camp begins.

The Elks will end their pre-season schedule on Friday night with a home encounter against their provincial rivals, the Calgary Stampeders. The harsh reality is following the game, there will be several players who will have played their final game in green and gold.

“It’s coming up to final cutdowns and everybody knows the reality of the fact that not everyone is going to be able to stay,” said Elks head coach Chris Jones.

“That’s the toughest part of the business, we had to let some guys go the other day after the pre-season game and that’s never fun. We got that handled yesterday and we have our team out here today.”

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Read more: Edmonton Elks trample Winnipeg Blue Bombers 30-20 in pre-season game

The Elks on Saturday released seven players and will have to release a large number of players next week to set their 46-man active roster and 10-man practice roster.

The Elks were the pre-season victors on Friday night.

Jones said he wasn’t happy with the number of penalties the team took, a turnover which led to a Bombers touchdown, and multiple big plays given up defence on another Bombers scoring drive.

Quarterback Nick Arbuckle went nine of 10 for 145 yards passing and threw for two touchdowns to receivers Caleb Holley and Ka’Ron Ashley, while Taylor Cornelius rushed for a touchdown. The Elks also forced three turnovers leading to 13 points which is key for Jones.

“If you can get three turnovers or more you usually have a decent chance to win the football game,” Jones said. “That’s the key is protecting the football and taking it away.”

Edmonton Elks head coach Chris Jones on how the dynamics of training camp in the final week

Elks defensive end Thomas Costigan is in his second season with the Elks. He made the team in 2021 as a rookie out of training camp, which was difficult to do considering the CFL didn’t play pre-season games.

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Costigan, who was fifth on the Elks depth chart last season going into camp, led the Elks in quarterback sacks with six. Costigan is now projected to be a starting defensive end, and said having pre-season games this year will give younger players a better shot to impress the coaching staff.

“It was a lot harder to get a shot without the pre-season games and it was stressful especially when I didn’t get a team rep in the first few days of camp,” Costigan said. “I think the guys this year have a better shot of making the team with two pre-season games. It’s helpful for rookies and I wish I had that chance last year.”

Read more: Edmonton Elks preseason tickets selling for $15; proceeds help Ukrainian newcomers settle in Alberta

CFL teams will need to make their final roster cuts on June 4.

Elks sign DL Louis

The Elks on Sunday morning signed veteran defensive tackle Claudell Louis for some added depth. Louis played two seasons for the B.C. Lions in 2018 and 2019. He was named the Lions nominee for Most Outstanding Rookie when he recorded 31 defensive tackles and two quarterback sacks. The 31-year-old was named to the Lions coaching staff as a defensive assistant in 2021.

The Elks will have another training camp session Monday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m on The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium.

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