Edmonton Elks in 2023 mode with just 2 games left in CFL season

Edmonton Elks head coach Chris Jones yells to his players during second half CFL action against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in Winnipeg Saturday, October 8, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

It was difficult to know exactly what the 2022 version of the Edmonton Elks would produce on the football field following a massive overhaul on and off the field.

The unfortunate reality for the Elks is that for the third time in the last four seasons, they will not make the CFL playoffs, and the team will be playing out the string in their final two games.

The Elks (4-12) host the Toronto Argonauts on The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday. Elks head coach Chris Jones says the process of building towards a better 2023 season begins now.

“This is the first day of the new future,” Jones said. “We’re not going to sit there and mull on the negative.

“Sitting around and rolling in the mud doesn’t help you. I told the staff we’re going to go to work.”

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Read more: Blue Bombers wrap up first by blitzing Elks 48-11

The Elks’ season will end on Oct. 21 against the B.C. Lions.

Click to play video: 'Edmonton Elks announce kids 12 and under get in free for rest of 2022 season'
Edmonton Elks announce kids 12 and under get in free for rest of 2022 season

The Argos are battling the Montreal Alouettes for first place in the Eastern Division while the Lions are battling the Calgary Stampeders for second place in the Western Division.

Both the Argos and Lions will provide a stiff challenge for the Elks, who themselves are trying to take the next step towards a post-season berth in 2023. Plus, the Elks would like to end a nasty, 15-game home losing streak which is now a CFL record.

Jones, who is also the Elks’ general manager, said the next two games can simulate what the playoffs are like.

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“This is all an evaluation period from myself down to the guy who plays the least amount of plays,” he said. “We’ve got two opportunities to play, and when you get a chance to go to the playoffs, you normally have to win at least two games.

“When you win the division, you’ve got to play two games back-to-back and you have to win at home. So, we have two games left and they will be played right here.”

Gibbon looks to take the next step

The week, Canadian offensive lineman Jesse Gibbon signed a two-year contract extension with the Elks which will take him to the end of the 2024 CFL season.

Gibbon was the second overall selection of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the 2019 CFL Draft. He was acquired by the Elks in a trade with the Tiger-Cats which sent offensive lineman David Beard from Edmonton to Hamilton.

Gibbon has played in 47 career games but has only started in four of those games. He was recently asked what he needs to do to take the next step in his career.

“It comes from doing a little bit extra every week,” Gibbon said.

“It’s the small details that matter a whole lot, and I think that will help me in taking the next step in becoming a starter.”

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The Manny Show is back

When 35-year-old receiver Manny Arceneaux was signed by the Elks back in February, it made several people scratch their heads.

Arceneaux had not played in the CFL since the 2019 season with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. In 2021, he played for the Frisco Fighters of the Indoor Football League. He has proved the doubters wrong, however, and sits third among Elks in receiving with 456 yards. He has also scored one touchdown.

Arceneaux suffered an ankle injury in Ottawa on Aug. 19. On Saturday he will make his return even though earlier he was not sure if he would play again this season.

“It’s a huge blessing and I’m excited to get the opportunity, because I’d be lying if I said I would know for a fact that I would suit up again in 2022,” Arceneaux said.

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“I don’t take anything for granted and I’m just going out there to have fun and make plays.”

Listen below: Edmonton Elks receiver Manny Arceneaux on returning to the lineup on Saturday and proving age is just a number at 35.

Elks running back Kevin Brown was held out of practice on Tuesday because of a back injury. He was a limited participant on Wednesday, but on Thursday he practised full-out and will play on Saturday.

Brown has a healthy 7.4 rushing average in the five games he’s played this season for the Elks.

You can hear live coverage of the Elks and Argos on Saturday on The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium on CISN Country 103.9 FM starting with Countdown to Kickoff at 3:30 p.m. The opening kickoff will be at 5 p.m.

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