Edmonton Elks’ quarterbacks embrace training camp competition: ‘It’s going to bring out the best in all of us’

Photo courtesy: Edmonton Elks

After one of the worst seasons in franchise history in 2021, the Edmonton Elks are looking to turn the page with an overhauled roster and front office.

One of the few areas in which the Elks didn’t make any major changes was the quarterback position. Taylor Cornelius and Nick Arbuckle are back to compete for the starting job and both passers seem comfortable with that arrangement.

“The competition is what’s going to breed the best performance out of all of us,” said Arbuckle, who the Elks acquired in a trade from Toronto last October and subsequently extended in November.

“Coming here every single day with the idea that you have to earn your job, that you have to earn your reps, you have to perform when you get your chance to be behind centre. It’s going to bring out the best in all of us.”

Arbuckle has seen limited action during his brief CFL career, starting 11 games for the Calgary Stampeders and Toronto Argonauts. He did not see the field with the Elks last season after he was acquired from the Argos.

Cornelius, who started eight games for the Elks a year ago, knew this competition was coming.

“I think every year you’ve got to compete for the starting job,” Cornelius said. “I think every year you want to compete and expect competition when there is a new staff, but also if it was the same staff it would still be a competition for the starting job.”

After the season the Elks had in 2021 a quarterback competition in training camp was a given and it looks as if the two main combatants are perfectly fine with letting this battle play out over the next month.

Other players in training camp competing for the starting quarterback job are first-round CFL draft pick Tre Ford, former fourth-round NFL draft pick Cardale Jones, dual-threat rookie Kai Locksley, and Canadian pocket passer Mike Beaudry.

Former Ohio State standout J. T. Barrett was recently added to the retired list, while Arizona product Khalil Tate was cut following rookie camp.

The Elks cleaned house with the firing of team president and CEO Chris Presson, general manager Brock Sunderland, and head coach Jamie Elizondo in November following a league-worst 3-11 season that saw them go winless at home for the first time in franchise history.

The Elks replaced Presson as president and CEO with Victor Cui in January and hired Chris Jones in the dual role of general manager and head coach in December to replace Sunderland and Elizondo, respectively.

With all the changes, the Elks hope to get themselves out of the basement of the West Division and back to where they were the last time Jones was in town.

The Elks overhauled their roster, bringing in favourites of Jones from his time in Saskatchewan like defensive back Ed Gainey and defensive lineman Makana Henry, while also making former Winnipeg Blue Bomber Kenny Lawler the league’s highest-paid receiver.

Josh Smith has been writing about the Ticats and the CFL since 2010 and was sporting his beard way before it was cool. Will be long after, too.