Elks offence gets a boost with arrival of Derel Walker to camp
EDMONTON — After months of waiting and talking about it, fans of the Edmonton Elks finally got to see Derel Walker back on the field for their team.
The 30-year-old receiver cleared his quarantine protocols and got back to work with the organization that he started his CFL career with, back in 2015.
“It’s amazing right now to be back,” Walker said after running through drills with his teammates at the Elks practice facility at Commonwealth Stadium.
“It definitely still feels like home, so to be able to be a part of it instead of being in the hotel room learning the playbook on my own, it was great. I got to run around a little bit today, get to see where I’m at.”
While he waited out the quarantine in his hotel room, Walker was on team meetings via Zoom. Joining in virtually while your teammates are there in-person can give the situation an artificial feeling.
“When you miss all those meetings and not being in the same room, you’re just absorbing and taking it in on a Zoom meeting,” Elks head coach Jaime Elizondo said of Walker.
“He had a lot of questions which is good but it felt great to have him back.”
“There’s a little bit of a grey area watching it on Zoom,” Walker told Global Edmonton.
“I really don’t get all the little coaching that I always instill within the players on certain plays, formations, and routes.
“Just being able to attend the meetings and hear some of those things, it helps a lot. Also, studying the playbook on my own but now I’m able to get back with the guys and able to make more sense of the terms.”
If football had a Big 3 the way NBA teams do, Walker would be part of Edmonton’s, with quarterback Trevor Harris and receiver Greg Ellingson. Having gone over the 1,000-yard receiving mark three times in his five CFL seasons — the other two were broken up by an NFL opportunity with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2017 and a knee injury in 2018 — Walker is an MOP-worthy player when fully healthy and fully available.
The 2015 CFL rookie of the year, Walker’s best season came in 2016, when he racked up 1,589 yards and 10 touchdowns. Playing for an Argos team in 2019 that had its share of offensive struggles, he still managed 1,040 yards and six touchdowns and was named a CFL East all-star. He signed as a free agent
Coming off of a cancelled season and a delayed start to camp, that all-star form won’t be on full display in his first few practices with his new/old team. He and the organization will be patient as he gets up to speed, so he can be that star player for his team when they open their season on Aug. 7 against Ottawa.
“It’s been a positive day and I’m grateful that I was able to get out there and see how our offence is going to run and the calls, the terminology, things like that,” Walker said.
“It starts with who he is as a person,” Elizondo said. “Great personality, he’s been in tune in all of the meetings, right off the bat. Having him on the field, he’s a phenomenal player, a really good person. He’s been in tune, asking a lot of questions.”