For the last two days, the sun has soaked The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium for rookie camp. Seventy-one players are vying to make an impression on the Edmonton Elks’ coaching staff and management before main training camp begins on Sunday morning.
One attribute that is already standing out for Elks head coach and general manager Chris Jones is his 2023 squad seems to be a faster group compared to the 2022 team, who finished with a dismal 4-14 record.
“Yeah it seems like it,” Jones said. “They seem like they’re playing a little bit faster than what I remember us playing last year so I hope we’re taking a stride in the right direction.”
Chris Jones is noted for his fast-paced practices and it can be a hard adjustment for some. For Elks 2023 second overall draft pick Michaeal Brodrique, the University of Montreal linebacker says it’s a challenge he relishes.
“We all have heard about Chris Jones and the pace of his practices and how hard they are,” Brodrique said. “At some, it’s got to be hard because we’re not in USports any more. So, yeah I expected it.”
Listen below: Edmonton Elks linebacker and 2023 1st round pick Michael Brodrique on his first professional training camp
Brodrique impressed the Elks brass during the CFL Combine in Edmonton in late March, where he showed he has a high football IQ to go along with the speed and physcality he brings. Jones says so far, Brodrique has passed every test on how to be a pro.
“He’s kind of quiet but he’s where he’s supposed be all of the time, coming in early, and watching film,” Jones said.
“Not only that, he melds with the group very well and he seems like a guy who is going to fit in well.”
Coates adapting to CFL game
Receiver Sammie Coates is attending Elks rookie camp but he’s far from a rookie in professional football. Coates recorded 528 yards and two touchdowns in 44 games with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns, and Houston Texans from 2015 to 2018.
Coates played for the Steelers under head coach Mike Tomlin and with future Pro Footabll Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. He hasn’t played football since the 2020 XFL season before it was shut down like most sports because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 30-year-old is doing his best to adjust to the CFL game, which he says has been a real test so far.
“You got a lot of space so you got a lot of chances to make plays so that’s big time for a receiver out here,” Coates said.
“You have to play fast; that’s one thing I have get used to is the speed of the game. Once you get that down pat and get your legs in shape and catch your breath, you can be a player out here.”
Listen below: Edmonton Elks receiver Sammie Coates on his attempt to get back into pro football after 3 years away
Rookie camp ends Friday
Day One of rookie camp brought of lot of energy. Day Two was a little slower to start according to head coach Chris Jones, but he says he saw improvement later in the session. Friday brings the final exam for the rookies as they try to survive past the weekend.
“I’ve got to back off their legs tomorrow but it’s our last evaluation before we make our first cuts (on Saturday),” Jones said. “We have to cut 15 guys and that’s never a fun thing to do. There’s a bunch of really good kids out here and they have really worked hard.”
Listen below: Edmonton Elks head coach Chris Jones says rookie camp has been positive so far with one day left to go
The final day of rookie camp begins at 9am on Friday morning on The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium.
The first day of main training camp will begin on Sunday morning at 9 a.m.
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