Nov. 19, 2021 was when is a miserable season for the Edmonton Elks ended with a 43-10 loss to the B.C. Lions. Fast-forward to June 11, 2022 and the Elks look a whole lot different.
The Elks will open their 2022 CFL regular season on Saturday night when they take on the Lions at B.C. Place Stadium in Vancouver.
The Elks have Chris Jones at the helm now as the team’s new head coach and general manager. He will look to reclaim the magic which led the Elks to their last Grey Cup title back in 2015.
There are only 22 players back from last season out of the 75 players who are currently on either the active roster, the practice roster or on the one-game or six-game injured list.
Only five starters are back from the 2021 regular season opener: receivers Derel Walker and Mike Jones, running back and the Elks’ 2021 nominee for Most Outstanding Player James Wilder Jr., offensive lineman David Beard and defensive tackle Jake Ceresna.
Listen below: Edmonton Elks head coach Chris Jones, running back James Wilder Jr., and receiver Kenny Lawler talk oddsmakers setting the team’s win total for 2022 at 7.5.
The Elks will have a busy road schedule to start the season with the first three of four games on the road, including Saturday’s contest in Vancouver.
Quarterback Nick Arbuckle will finally play his first game as member of the green and gold since a late-October trade from the Toronto Argonauts in 2021.
Arbuckle will have some weapons to rely on, including 2021 receiving champion Kenny Lawler (1,014 yards) who signed with Edmonton as a free agent back in February after winning back-to-back Grey Cups with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Wilder Jr. returns after he finished third in the CFL in rushing yards (770) and second in rushing average with 5.4 yards per carry.
Walker will look to return to his All-Star form after a disappointing 2021 season where he recorded a catch rate of 50 per cent and was shut out from the end zone for the first time in his career.
On defence, Thomas Costigan and Ceresna are back. Costigan, despite not being an every-week starter, finished the 2021 season as the Elks’ leader in quarterback sacks with six. Ceresna finished second on the team in sacks with five.
The Elks’ defence has been hit by the injury bug to start the season. Starting half-back Aaron Grymes has been placed on the six-game injured list with a knee injury while starting corner Nafees Lyon is on the one-game injured list with an illness. Starting defensive end Tobi Antigha is on the one-game injured list with a groin injury.
The following are the projected offensive and defensive starters for the Elks:
Quarterback: Nick Arbuckle
Running back: James Wilder Jr. (fullback: Ante Milanovich-Litre)
Offensive line: Antonio Garcia, David Foucault, David Beard, Mark Korte, Colin Kelly
Receivers: Derel Walker, Kenny Lawler, Emmanuel Arceneaux, Jalin Marshall, Mike Jones
Defensive line: Thomas Costigan, Makana Henry, Jake Ceresna, Pharoah McKeever
Linebackers: Wesly Appolon, Adam Konar, Malik Sonnier
Defensive backs: Jalen Collins, Ed Gainey, Matthew Elam, Thomas Decoud, Trey Hoskins
You can hear live coverage of Saturday’s season opener between the Elks and Lions on 630 CHED starting with Countdown to Kickoff with Brenden Escott at 6:30 p.m.
The opening kickoff from B.C. Place Stadium in Vancouver will be at 8 p.m., with Morley Scott and Dave Campbell calling all of the live action. Plus, hear analysis from two-time Grey Cup champion and former Edmonton offensive lineman Blake Dermott.
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