October 1, 2023

Elks DL Leonard making impact on both sides of the ball

Edmonton Elks defensive lineman A.C. Leonard (6) makes a reception on a pass from Edmonton Elks quarterback Taylor Cornelius (15) after a fake play for short yardage during CFL football game action against the Hamilton Tiger Cats in Hamilton, Ont., Thursday, Aug. 17, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Power

AC Leonard is having one of the rarest seasons for the Green and Gold in modern CFL history.

At a time when players are virtually exclusive to one side of the ball, the Edmonton Elks defensive lineman has made an impact on both offense and defense.

While he continues to be one of the top pass-rushers in the game, wrapping up opposing quarterbacks for 10 sacks so far this season, he has also caught passes, even taking one into the endzone for the Green and Gold.

Through Week 16, Leonard was tied with Elks teammate Jake Ceresna for third place on the CFL sacks leaderboard. He also has 37 defensive tackles and a forced fumble.

In the Elks road win over the Hamilton Ti-Cats in Week 11, Leonard became the first Edmonton player to record a sack and a reception in the same game since Robert Brown in 2007. Leonard then caught a 10-yard pass for a touchdown against the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Week 15, making him the only player in the CFL this season with a sack and an offensive touchdown.

What’s next for the veteran who hails from Florida? A rushing touchdown? A kickoff return? Leonard’s capabilities might be as unlimited as the imagination of Edmonton coach Chris Jones.