Edmonton Elks release training camp throttle due to injuries and smoke

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It wasn’t all smoke and mirrors at Edmonton Elks training camp on Saturday.

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Well, there was a lot of forest fire smoke over Commonwealth Stadium. That is true.

But if mirrors were used, it was to reflect on the physical toll of the first week of camp on the 100 players present, who have seen more football in the last seven days than they have probably seen in the last seven days. over the past year and a half under pandemic restrictions.

As such, the coaching staff decided to forgo an intra-squad scrum originally scheduled for Saturday, which would have seen game-like situations while strangling the physique with tackles and blocks.

But after seeing the list of names grow longer on his injury report coming out of practice on Friday, head coach Jaime Elizondo opted to ease off and let his players focus on rest and recovery this weekend instead.

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“We could have fought today, we definitely had enough body, but we had very light hamstring pulls and that sort of thing,” Elizondo said, noting that an injury to a player can have. a trickle-down effect when those who remain pick up the slack in the exercises. “We just decided as a staff that we were at the point where we felt good in the first five practices. And, really, kudos to the players for the way they came out.

“We just decided that the smart thing to do was hold back the scrum and delay it.”

While a second scrum is still on the schedule for July 25, the Elks were hoping to use Saturday’s session to help clarify who might stay and who won’t come by Monday’s deadline for the first round of Cups. camps, which see the three-digit roster reduced to 75 players, plus non-counters.

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“This is the difficult part. As a coach you always want to give that extra opportunity and see how they react when the balls fly a little bit more, ”Elizondo said. “For the players that I think are in the bubble, we have a pretty thorough process on our evaluations, we guys are rating every day. Talk about it as a staff member, who is in place? Who is down?

“But the general principle is what is the most important thing for our team?

“There is no doubt that football is a high contact game, but at the end of the day the end result is, let’s be as healthy as possible on August 7,” said Elizondo, who is starting his first game as a player. that player. CFL head coach against an Ottawa Redblacks club that marked his last coaching stop in that league.

AERIAL ASSAULT

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And speaking of clean air, the biggest benefit of not having a scrum, beyond the injury implications, was that the Elks could head indoors to the smaller training ground and organize a walk. smokeless, with a haze blurring the horizon outside.

“Even if we hadn’t canceled the scrum, today’s weather might have forced us inside, which would have meant that we canceled the scrum and adopted a walk-through-based format. about the size of the indoor facility, ”Elizondo said. “So this is going to be a factor and something that we will be watching over the next few days as well. “

With 45 yards plus a goal crease to work with, the indoor court is a nice alternative when training conditions deteriorate away from home, but it’s not an ideal setting to try and house a hundred happy campers. .

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“And obviously you can’t throw a go ball, you’re working in tight areas,” Elizondo said. “But we did a really good job today with our assists, offensively and defensively, and the special teams pass was awesome. The guys were locked up and loaded and that’s what we want to do, even if we take the physical burden off them. We want to make sure we’re moving fast, seeing things fast, and teaching opportunities, but that was a great pace for a guided tour.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

This is not Cole Nelson’s first training camp in Edmonton.

But this is the first professional training camp for the University of Alberta Golden Bears product in Edmonton after being drafted by the Elks in the first round (fifth overall) in May.

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“I’m learning that I don’t know much about football, I jumped here with a professional coach and everything changed,” said the 24-year-old defensive tackle from Ponoka. “I have to learn to be better, to be better with my hands, to be better with my feet, but it’s a good time for sure.”

Although a steep learning curve is to be expected, his coaches are not as harsh in their initial assessment of him.

“Every time you step into professional football it’s always a period of adjustment and Cole comes out of it,” Elizondo said. “He has a little more work.

“But there aren’t many human beings who move as well as him with his height. So it’s just about slowing down the game. It has a huge advantage. “

Then: The Elks will spend Sunday away from the field before returning for practice Monday morning.

Email: [email protected]

On Twitter: @GerryModdejonge

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