‘That s*** can’t happen’: Elks searching for more discipline after training camp altercation

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Saturday’s preseason debut can’t come fast enough for the Edmonton Elks, as tensions between the first-team offensive and defensive units boiled over into a significant altercation during practice on Wednesday.

“It was a frustrating day. The guys have seen enough of each other,” head coach Chris Jones acknowledged in an interview with 630 CHED. “Once we get to the game and get to play against somebody else, it’s gonna be a good thing.”

“We all men. S*** happens, you gotta go onto the next play though and understand that we’re a team,” veteran defensive back Loucheiz Purifoy stated in his own address to the media. “That s*** can’t happen and it’s been happening a little too much.”

While the fracas didn’t cost the team much in terms of reps according to Jones, the coach was forced to begin the session over and impose discipline with a number of sprints after practice. Nearly two weeks into training camp, he’s still trying to set expectations for how the team must behave in order to be successful.

“It’s tough. They’re grown men, so you’ve got to get grown men to do grown men stuff,” Jones said. “We’ve got to have more discipline than what we had today and we’ve got to coach it better than we did today. We’ve got to get past it.”

“Like I said, they’re grown men so there’s got to be consequences for what they do. There are limitations as to what we can do, but something as little as wearing team-issued gear, it’s a pretty simple rule. It starts at the top and they’ve been told to wear team-issued gear and if not, they’ll do a thousand fives (sic). It is what it is.”

As a long-time Jones disciple, Purifoy could see the consequences coming from a mile away and attempted to tune in his young teammates. While he was unsuccessful in preventing the lapse in discipline, he believes the blame largely falls on the shoulders of the offence.

“There’s always a warning before destruction. He started practice over and I was on the sideline telling them, ‘Bag this s*** up before he starts practice over,'” he recalled. “But that’s what happens. Defence just came out and had a good day. We responded well to getting our a** whooped yesterday, offence didn’t respond well to getting their a** whooped today.”

Training camp scuffles are hardly a rarity in pro football, but the Elks are under particular scrutiny in the lead-up to 2024. The franchise has missed the playoffs in three consecutive seasons and posted back-to-back 4-14 campaigns under Jones, placing him firmly on the hot seat entering his third year on the job.

Nevertheless, Purifoy believes that moments of conflict within the team right now will only help them change the narrative in the long run.

“We’ve been banging every day, every day. Emotions are gonna flare, you just got to understand that we’re a team and we got to stick together,” he said.

“It’s gonna make us stronger. It ain’t gonna tear us apart, we ain’t gonna let that happen. It’s gonna make us stronger. We get this s*** out of the way now and we’re a little bit more disciplined, we’ll be okay.”

The Elks will host the Saskatchewan Roughriders for their first of two preseason games on Saturday, May 25 at 4:00 p.m. ET.