May 12, 2024

McLeod Bethel-Thompson setting the tone on Day 1 of Training Camp

EDMONTON – It didn’t take long for McLeod Bethel-Thompson to make a good first impression.

In front of the onlookers at the Commonwealth Rec Centre Fieldhouse, the new Elks QB unleashed his first pass during the team sessions — rope of a completion to Gavin Cobb on a deep fade.

First pass, first touchdown. All part of a relatively smooth first day on the field for the Elks.

“I thought it was really awesome,” Bethel-Thompson said about Day 1 of Training Camp. “I think the guys are really coming together. I think we’re building something, but that’s got to happen day-by-day, brick-by-brick.”

The building of the 2024 Edmonton Elks will happen off the field as much as it takes place on the field. No team remains the same season over season, so the first few days of Training Camp are as much of a meet and greet as they are a football practice. Learning what makes your new teammates tick and building a tightly bonded locker room is a priority and it can help pay dividends late in the season.

That’s everything and that’s part of what the reason makes the CFL such an amazing league, is that the teams that win the Grey Cup are the teams that have that cohesion, they have that brotherhood in the locker room,” Bethel-Thompson said. “It’s like, how well can you trust the guy next to you? I think it’s the perfect example of what brotherhood can do when your desires and the team’s desires kind of intermingle and come together. The quicker and the sooner we can do that, the better.”

“But, like I said, it’s a process. We’re done day one and we’re behind a lot of other teams and cohesion, so we have to be more purposeful with our actions every day and more purposeful with our getting to know each other and doing it quickly.”

Bethel-Thompson will be a big factor in the team’s cohesion. The quarterback position is often a de facto locker room leader, and on Day 1, Bethel-Thompson played the part. The veteran QB was in constant communication with his teammates throughout the practice and helped bring energy through the day.

When he wasn’t throwing dimes to his new batch of wideouts, Bethel-Thompson was sprinting down the field with his hand raised to help celebrate fellow newcomer Javon Leake’s explosive play on offence.

McLeod Bethel-Thompson (#10) celebrates a big run by Javon Leake (#22) during Sunday’s Training Camp session

One area where the Elks QB won’t have to build some chemistry is with the team’s offensive staff. Both offensive coordinator Jarious Jackson and pass game coordinator Markus Howell were with Bethel-Thompson in Toronto when the QB led the CFL in passing yards with 4,731.  The familiarity with a large portion of the offence and the people who are calling it, made what should be a feeling out process more of a continuation of an already established bond. 

“We can have conversations that aren’t getting to know each other or, you know, football 101,” Bethel-Thompson said. “It’s like we both see the 101, let’s talk about 2.0 or let’s talk about 3.0. I see this here. How do you want me to go here?”

“Rather than just getting to know each other and earning each other’s trust, we’ve already built that trust,” he added. “Now it’s just about continuing that dialogue. Right when he sends a play in, it’s not just a play, it’s telling me what he’s thinking. That’s the relationship that’s going to build as we go.”