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February 26, 2013
Joey Elliott is keeping busy substitute teaching and helping quarterbacks polish their skills.
But that's just biding time until he is able to head back to training camp and compete in his true passion, playing quarterback.
Elliott is set to return to the CFL's Winnipeg Blue Bombers in June, though he's not entirely sure just yet what he'll walk into.
Last season, Elliott was the third-string QB but moved into a starting role after an injury to starter Buck Pierce and a benching of backup Alex Brink after three games. Elliott completed 61 percent of his passes, threw for 2,101 yards and had five touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
It was quite a roller coaster season for Elliott, who'd started twice as a rookie in 2010 but then missed the bulk of 2011 with an ACL injury.
"Our head coach got fired. We had a new offensive coordinator. When you have those in the middle of the season, you're going to have those ups and downs," Elliott said earlier this month before a session of his Elliott Quarterback Academy in Indianapolis. "I got thrown in there pretty quickly. Winnipeg is a very unique situation. Hopefully going into camp, I'll be able to compete for the job. That's my goal."
Really, though, Elliott isn't sure what will happen.
Tim Burke, who moved from interim coach last season to full-time this year, said he wants to make a decision prior to camp on whether Pierce will resume his starting duties.
"You can't go into camp saying everybody is equal and we'll let them fight it out and see who wins because you know Buck's going to win," Burke told the Winnipeg Free Press. "Once you decide where (Pierce) fits in, the other guys fight it out. If you decide he's the starter, you can make that decision any time. If you determine he's going to be the backup, then you won't know who the starter is going to be until after training camp."
Elliott plans on sticking with the CFL, for now, but his ultimate goal still is to play in the NFL.
He figures his best chances would be with the Colts and the Chiefs, both franchises with which has contacts. Colts GM Ryan Grigson not only is also a Purdue graduate, but he was the one who gave Elliott a shot with the Eagles while he was in Philadelphia. That staff is currently with the Chiefs.
Elliott insists CFL players can make the move to the NFL - he rips off recent names like Colts leading tackler Jerrell Freeman and Seahawks shutdown corner Brandon Browner.
"There's some really good football up there. You just don't see it," Elliott said. "People say, 'Oh, it's lesser than the NFL.' Some people, like myself, don't get opportunities. Every kid in my draft class had three years of experience. I had one. What was I supposed to do? It's a business. You have to sell tickets. I understand that. You have to put people in the seats. I'm not a big name. The guys who have gone from the CFL to the NFL have done really, really well. So they keep signing more and more players.
"You just have to have one guy like you."
But before he needs to head back to the Blue Bombers, Elliott plans on making some trips back to West Lafayette.
Elliott watched Darrell Hazell's introductory press conference and was impressed. He's looking forward to attending a couple spring practices, which begin March 19, and is excited to see how the Boilermakers look under the new staff.
Elliott said it's important for fans to give Hazell time to "work the plan," but he thinks the personality of Hazell and his staff will allow them to go into any recruit's house and compete with any Big Ten coach.
During spring ball, Elliott likely will keep a close eye on the quarterback battle between senior Rob Henry, redshirt freshmen Austin Appleby and Bilal Marshall and freshman Danny Etling.
"I would say attention to detail is the No. 1 thing that a quarterback has to possess," said Elliott, who threw for 3,026 yards and 22 touchdowns in his only season as a starter for Purdue in 2009. "After I left and I talked to some coaches that were there, they said the first few weeks of camp, they assumed some stuff that those quarterbacks knew but they really didn't. They just said it was attention to detail, where people are lined up, and they're not going to be lined up the same way every time, so you have to be able to see that. You can't just tell the kid where to throw the football.
"As a quarterback in the Big Ten, it's tough. You have to be even keel, keep your head on your shoulders, can't be too high, too low. And you have to enjoy the moment. I was the prime example of that, 1-5 and we should have been 5-1. Still to this day anybody who talks to me about Purdue football, I get a weird feeling in my stomach. We should have went to the Rose Bowl."
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