Elks will be without ‘a group’ of players for Week 5 following COVID-19 outbreak

Photo courtesy: Edmonton Elks

Edmonton Elks’ head coach Jaime Elizondo indicated on Wednesday that there is a group of players who will not dress for the Labour Day Classic after contracting COVID-19 during the team’s recent outbreak.

“Everybody’s affected so differently. Some guys don’t have any symptoms, didn’t feel anything. Some guys that come out of this, they may have respiratory issues coming out of it that you don’t uncover until six or seven days down the road, so everybody’s on a different timeline as it depends on this disease,” said Elizondo.

The Elks will not finalize their roster for Monday’s game against Calgary until their third day of practice, which is Saturday. The team plans to be flexible based on how players respond following their return to the field.

“As they come out of quarantine, there’s a process that we put them through to make sure that they don’t have any lingering issues or lingering effects because it is a respiratory illness when you cut through all of it. We want to make sure that their health and safety is first,” said Elizondo.

The club had two online workouts each day during their quarantine period, which provided players an opportunity to remain active while isolation at home. The team does not plan to have an intense practice day on Thursday, recognizing that players will need to be eased back to full speed.

“There no way we’re bursting tomorrow in practice,” said Elizondo. “It’s going to be a lighter practice getting some conditioning back. You can’t spend ten days in a hotel room, in your apartment, in your house not running and then come back on the first day and just start sprinting. You just can’t do that.”

Elizondo indicated that his club chose not to meet fully in-person on Wednesday, limiting players to specific rooms based on their position groups. It was an extra layer of precaution given that the team was in its first day back in their facility following an outbreak of COVID-19 that infected 13 players.

The first-year head coach doesn’t believe there is any rift in the locker room regarding the team’s recent outbreak or its vaccination rate. He also reiterated his belief that the team has generally done a good job of following COVID-19 protocols.

“Even though we had a COVID outbreak, 95 percent of the team was doing things the way that they needed to be done,” said Elizondo.

Edmonton released starting Canadian offensive lineman Jacob Ruby on Tuesday, which was reportedly due to him misrepresenting his vaccination status to the team. Elizondo declined to comment on Ruby’s departure specifically, but reiterated the importance of having a team-first mentality.

“I don’t have much comment on the situation with players that are no longer part of this team,” he said. “You put the team first in everything you do. That’s how we go about our decision-making process. That’s what we need to do better as a team and that’s where our focus is, is just focusing on what’s the most important thing for our team because the team will always come first.”

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.