Elks Prepare for Regular Season Debut Amidst Injuries

The Edmonton Elks have had a celebratory week honouring the franchise’s 75th anniversary. They aim to cap off the week with a win in their 2024 CFL regular season debut on Saturday when they host the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Commonwealth Stadium.

The Elks are led by new starting quarterback and leader McLeod Bethel-Thompson, a two-time Grey Cup winner in 2017 and 2022 with the Toronto Argonauts. Bethel-Thompson, who played in the USFL in 2023, will make his 48th career start in the CFL on Saturday. He has a career record of 24-23, but in his last 26 starts over the 2021 and 2022 seasons, Bethel-Thompson has recorded an 18-8 record (.692 win percentage).

The Elks injured list might be the story heading into their season-opener against the Riders. The Elks will start the season with six players on their six-game injured list. Defensive lineman J-Min Pelley (knee), quarterback Jarret Doege (knee), defensive back Jake Taylor (wrist), receivers Vincent Forbes-Mombleau (hip), Gavin Cobb (hip) and Kyran Moore (knee) will miss time in the first third of the season.

For Kyran Moore, his season may be over after injuring his knee near the end of practice on Thursday. Head coach Chris Jones said the opportunity is now there for his depth to rise to the occasion.

“It’s an unfortunate event but it’s kind of a reality in pro football, when the door does open you got some guys who can take that oppourtunity and some guys won’t,” Jones said. “I’m looking forward to watching how some guys play.”

The door of opportunity is open for Dillon Mitchell, who, after recording 637 yards in nine games in 2022, slipped to 532 yards in 18 games in 2023.

He reclaimed a starting role in the receiving corps after a good showing including a touchdown in the final pre-season game last week against the B.C. Lions.

Veteran Hergy Mayala grabbed a starting role after the five-year Canadian veteran enjoyed a strong pre-season.

Rookie Malik Flowers will start in his first CFL game on Saturday.

On defence, veteran Loucheiz Purifoy will miss the game because of illness. Rookie Kordell Jackson will start at safety in his first CFL game.

Starting right tackle Brett Boyko will miss Saturday’s game with a head injury suffered early in training camp, leaving 10-year veteran Hunter Steward to start. Boyko may be able to return next week when the Elks play a home game against the Montreal Alouettes.

When the Elks and Riders meet on Saturday, you can expect a close game. In their last 12 meetings, every game was decided in the final three minutes with an average margin of victory of six points. The 12 games have included a total of 34 lead changes

You can hear Saturday’s regular season and home opener on CISN Country 103.9, starting with Countdown to Kick-off with Courtney Theriault at 12:30 p.m.

The opening kick-off from Commonwealth Stadium will be at 2 p.m. Morley Scott and Dave Campbell will call all of the live action. Analysis from former Edmonton Football Team offensive lineman and two-time Grey Cup champion Blake Dermott. Former EE offensive lineman Gord Hinse will provide analysis from the Elks’ sidelines.

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