CFL permits Elks to dress extra players for two final games due to tight schedule

Photo courtesy: Edmonton Elks

Help is on the way for the Edmonton Elks in the form of five extra roster spots in Week 16.

General manager Brock Sunderland spoke to the media and indicated that the CFL will allow his team to dress five extra players for their final two games. Teams are currently able to dress a maximum of 45 players per game, which means Edmonton will be permitted to dress 50 players against the Toronto Argonauts on Nov. 16 and against the B.C. Lions on Nov. 19.

“Hopefully that helps out,” he said. “Hopefully we won’t need that, but to sit here and try to predict what’s going to happen on something this rare and for the first time ever? We’re all guessing a little bit. We’re all doing our best to prepare. We think we have a good plan, but no one’s ever done this before so we’ll find out after the fact.”

The CFL was forced to postpone Edmonton’s game against the Toronto Argonauts originally scheduled for Aug. 26 after the team suffered an outbreak of COVID-19. The contest was rescheduled for Nov. 16, which will force the Elks to play three games in a seven-day period.

Sunderland recognizes that this tight timeline will be a huge challenge for his team given the physical nature of the game. The team believes they will be the first postsecondary or professional football team to play three games in such a short period of time.

“We’ve been preparing for it with everybody on staff from equipment to medical to video to football operations and there’s no blueprint,” said Sunderland. “There’s no way we could reach out whether it be a college team or another professional team and ask them, ‘Hey, what was the best approach in your opinion?’ We’re kind of writing the script here, so it’s new to everybody.”

The Elks haven’t been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, though the club is currently last-place in the West Division at 2-7 following a Week 12 bye.

Sunderland doesn’t believe his players have checked out despite their poor record and said that he was impressed with his team’s effort in a recent loss to the first-place Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

“If you watch the game against Winnipeg — our last game — I don’t think you could walk away saying that this team isn’t motivated or playing hard. I think you’d walk away saying the exact opposite and the locker room after the game felt exactly that way,” he said.

“Are we happy with 2-7? Of course not. Very happy with the effort and how physical we played against a very good football team in Winnipeg.”

Editor’s note: since the publishing of this article, Hodge has reported that the Argos and Lions will also be permitted to dress five extra players for their Week 16 games against the Elks.

John Hodge is a CFL insider and draft analyst who has been covering the league since 2014.