Elks offence looking for a little finish before 2023 season begins

There are no more pre-season games to play for the Edmonton Elks who lost a close game in Calgary to the Stampeders on Victoria Day, followed up by a 25-23 loss at home to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

The Elks are using the final week of training camp as a chance to, as head coach and general manager Chris Jones says, “work on ourselves.”

One area of the Elks game the team is looking to address is their ability to finish drives. Offensively, the Elks put up over 400 yards of offence in their two pre-season games but stalled in the opponents red zone — the 20-yard line and in. The Elks scored twice in the red zone in five opportunities.

Receiver Eugene Lewis said good teams know how to put touchdowns on the board.

Click to play video: 'Edmonton Elks training camp rookie Maurice Ffrench trying to make a name for himself'
Edmonton Elks training camp rookie Maurice Ffrench trying to make a name for himself

“In the CFL, scoring touchdowns and scoring field goals is a big difference, because it ends up catching up to you in the end,” Lewis said. “When we get into the red zone we want points every time, but we really want to score six to seven points every time.

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“That’s the type of offence we have is to score touchdowns.”

Eugene Lewis on getting some work in on Saturday vs. Winnipeg and finishing better in the red zone:

The one aspect of the Elks offence is quite clear: they can run the football. The Elks produced 274 rushing yards in the two pre-season games, including 144 yards from newcomer Shannon Brooks and 55 yards from starting running back Kevin Brown.

Cerensa embracing change

Elks defensive lineman Jake Ceresna did a lot with a little in 2022. Despite missing six games early in the season because of a shoulder injury, Cerensa ended up third in the CFL in quarterback sacks with 10 and was the Elks nominee for Most Outstanding Defensive Player.

Ceresna has moved from his usual interior spot to a rush end position in camp, opposite A.C. Leonard.

“It’s been good so far and I’m just trying to learn the little details of it,” Ceresna said. “I’ve played three-technique (inside) my whole career so I know those little intricate details. And now I’m just learning how to play at the edge and get comfortable out there.”

DL Jake Ceresna speaks about his eagerness to make the Elks a winner and moving to a new position:

No lack of faith in Faithfull

The Elks drafted 36-year-old kicker Dean Faithfull second overall in this year’s CFL Global Draft.

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Faithfull is a former professional soccer player from England who, at the age of 34, ended up the oldest player in NCAA Division 2 history when he suited up for Colorado State University Pueblo.

Faithfull went six of nine on field attempts in the pre-season, only a 66.6 per cent success rate. His last field goal attempt, a 52-yarder for the win against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers last Saturday was blocked.

Click to play video: 'City signs 5-year lease for Edmonton Elks to stay at Commonwealth Stadium'
City signs 5-year lease for Edmonton Elks to stay at Commonwealth Stadium

Head coach Chris Jones said Faithfull will start the season as the kicker and will have a target line.

“We’ll keep him at around the 40-yard line until we can figure out where he’s at,” Jones said. “When he figures out how to hit a 50-yarder with the same exact stroke and it goes through, then we will be in a real good place.”

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Camp comes to a close

Training camp will officially come to an end for the Elks on Friday morning with a controlled scrimmage. Before then, the Elks will reduce their roster for the final time in camp.

On Monday, Chris Jones said he would make about eight more cuts after cutting 18 players on Sunday.

The Elks are in a unique circumstance having already played their two pre-season games. Jones said there’s good and bad to having more practice time without game action.

“Timing-wise, it’s probably a disadvantage but certainly the guys we we’re able to get back — I think that was an advantage,” Jones said. “We’ve been able to slow it down and been able to teach and re-teach which hopefully will reduce the number of missed assignments.”

Edmonton Elks head coach Chris Jones on winding down training camp with a scrimmage on Friday and upcoming roster decisions:

Defensive back Scott Hutter returned to the field on Thursday after suffering an injury on the first day of camp on May 14.

Defensive lineman J-Min Pelley, who missed the Elks final pre-season game due to personal reasons, was back on the practice field this week.

The Elks will open up their 2023 CFL regular season on June 11 at home against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.


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