Former Ticat Maleek Irons draws start as Elks opt for all Canadian running backs

Photo courtesy: Alex Lupul/

The Edmonton Elks will be rolling with an all-Canadian backfield when they host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Friday.

With star running back James Wilder Jr. still on the six-game injured list, the Elks had been using American Sherman Badie as a replacement. This week, Badie has reverted to the practice squad and recently signed Canadian Maleek Irons has drawn the start.

The six-foot, 230-pound native of Chilliwack, B.C. was originally selected by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the third round of the 2019 CFL Draft. He played 24 games over three seasons in Hamilton and recorded 74 carries for 324 yards and one rushing touchdown while adding 18 receptions for 116 yards.

The 26-year-old played four seasons at Ohio University, rushing for 1,447 yards and 16 touchdowns over 28 games with the Bobcats.

Irons was released by the Ticats on July 12 and signed by Edmonton five days later. He enters the lineup having spent less than a week with the team.

Joining Irons in the backfield will be backup Jamel Lyles, who was signed by the team on July 6.

Lyles was released by the B.C. Lions in late May after playing two seasons with the Lions, dressing for 12 games and recording 11 carries for 86 yards. The native of Surrey, B.C. was selected in the eighth round of the 2019 CFL Draft out of the University of Manitoba.

Fans can also expect to see fullback Ante Milanovic-Litre get touches, as he has recorded nine carries for 58 yards and four receptions for 22 yards so far this season. That makes three Canadian ball carriers for the Elks, all of whom hail from the Lower Mainland of B.C.

The ratio switch in the backfield was part of ten roster changes for Edmonton following their win against Montreal. Most notably, receiver Derel Walker has been added to the one-game injured list and former NFL fourth-round pick Hakeem Butler will start in his place.