May 8, 2024

Elks Rookie Camp | Day 1 Recap

EDMONTON – Football season is officially here.

A group of over 50 CFL rookies took to the freshly painted lines on Commonwealth Stadium field on Wednesday to see who fits the bill as the newest members of the Edmonton Elks.

For those who put together this group through months of grinding tape and in-person scouting, today is the culmination of that offseason of labour.

“As a GM and a personnel guy, I mean, this is Christmas Day,” General Manager and Head Coach Chris Jones said after day one of Elks Rookie Camp. “You got your presents, and you want to go open them and see how they’re going to perform.”

“You feel like they’re all going to perform well. And again, you’re never 100 per cent, but if you can just put together a good, solid group, that’s what you want.”

Success for a player right now is measured in how fit they came to camp and how well they already know the Elks playbook. Luckily for the club, it seems the current group checks both of those boxes.

“We didn’t lose a guy to medical for the first time ever. High character group of guys, it seems. You know, they went out today and put together probably the best rookie first day ever in walkthrough,” Jones said.  “They know their plays and they’re able to line up in their formations. Usually, you want to pull your hair out after the first day.”

Elks defensive lineman Randy Charlton (#76) makes his way around a block during 1-on-1 drills on the first day of Rookie Camp

A strong day one of Rookie Camp is a good sign for an Elks team that is looking to earn their first CFL Playoff berth since the 2019 season. The more competitive the Rookie Camp is, the tougher Coach Jones’s job will be. The tight turnaround between now and Sunday’s main camp means there will be limited opportunities for a deeply talented group to changes the minds and hearts of the Elks personnel staff.

Jones has until Friday night to cut down the Training Camp roster to just 85 participants, so every opportunity to make yourself stand out — on or off the field — is a moment to be seized by the latest crop of rookies.

“There is going to be guys that jump out very positively, and then unfortunately, there’s going to be guys that jump out negatively,” Jones said. “We’re going to watch the film right now and we’ll probably be able to identify one or two guys that probably don’t fit.”

The hard decisions made in May are the same ones that will pay dividends in October. The reality of pro football is the line between who makes the team and who doesn’t is incredibly fine, so putting together the best group possible lowers the stakes of those tough decisions.

And, if day one is any indication, the Elks certainly have themselves a good group.