ELKS NOTES: Training camp dodges a bullet as a CBA agreement was reached

“It’s good that we can now focus on what we need to focus on and that’s getting our league where it needs to be. We have to play a lot of really good football over the next few months and do what we’re paid to do.

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So much for the threat of a Canadian Football League Players Association strike disrupting the Edmonton Elks’ training camp.

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Both the league and its players’ union have agreed on a new collective bargaining agreement that will allow the Elks to continue with their training camp schedule.

Along with the Calgary Stampeders, the Elks were able to kick off as scheduled this week due to provincial labor laws while the rest of the rosters went on strike.

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“It’s good that we can now focus on what we need to focus on and that puts our league where it belongs,” said Chris Jones, Elks’ head coach and general manager. “We’ve got to play a lot of really good football over the next few months and do what we’re paid to do. This is a coach and plays great football.”

The Elks and Stamps could do just that in a better position than the rest of the league as they had a longer runway to take off from.

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“Yeah, we were lucky,” he said, adding that with all the training time they’ve been granted, it can be overkill. “We and Calgary have been lucky enough to get into our ratings and now we just have to be careful not to overtax their legs and we want to take care of our players when we go to the games it’s a real one rating.”

Jones, for example, said he and his coaches would not miss being stuck midway between the two sides involved in the negotiations.

“Our players are our lifeline. You spend more time with players than you do with your family, and yes, you get closer to those guys,” Jones said. “And then there’s the business side, where you work for an organization, so yeah, it puts you in a bit of a bind.

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“But at the same time we are human and everyone knows what the business is.”

Especially the players whose livelihoods have been hit the hardest.

“Yeah, I think it hung over everyone’s head, everyone who was thinking about whether we were going to hit or not,” Elks linebacker Adam Konar said. “But the fact that we didn’t strike in the end is very good for us. We’ve got a little bit of a head start on everyone else, so we’re feeling good and looking forward to continuing to practice.

“Well, we’re happy.”

take cover

The Moose moved practice to the indoor field house with Thursday’s rain to avoid slips and falls that would only add to a growing list of camp casualties.

“It’s a really nice facility,” said Jones, who also had access to it during his first stint here as head coach in 2014. “It’s not that we’re afraid to go out in a little bit of rain, and it’s certainly not cold for Edmonton, but at the same time, on a dry surface you can gauge a lot more what a guy can do. So that’s why we came in.”

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And evaluation is the name of the game at training camp. Of course, fitting a stock list of 100+ corpses into a room that’s essentially half a seat’s worth leaves a little to be desired.

“That makes it really difficult,” Jones said. “What we did today was we split them up and brought the skill players up while we were doing our inside run phase, and then we turned around and went to our skeletal phase after that. So our boys can do both. It reduces the number of people, we’re just trying to practice safely.

FANTDAY

The potential for the Elks players to join the strike forced the club to postpone their annual Fan Day celebrations, which were scheduled for Monday at Comomonwealth Stadium.

A new date is currently being selected, which is expected to be sometime in the summer.

In and out: The Elks continued with roster shifts in camp Thursday, announcing the signing of American wide receivers Ka’Ron Ashley, a 2019 national champion with West Florida, and Dominic Davis (Southern California). Also signed this week is Canadian receiver Rashaun Simonise (Calgary) and American defenseman Malik Sonnier (Midwestern State)… The Elks have American receivers Nih-Jer Jackson (South Eastern Louisiana) and Josh Simmons (Prairie View A&M) as well as Canada Kicker Scott Crough sacked.

Email: [email protected]

On twitter: @GerryModdejonge

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