QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson to make regular-season debut for Elks in home opener

Photo courtesy: Edmonton Elks

The Edmonton Elks may be celebrating their 75th anniversary, but they’ll have plenty of new faces in the lineup when they open the 2024 season at home on Saturday afternoon.

Veteran quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson headlines the new additions after joining the team following a stint in the USFL. The 35-year-old boasts 13,261 career passing yards and 70 touchdowns from his time with the Toronto Argonauts, plus a pair of Grey Cup rings. He’ll replace Canadian Tre Ford as the team’s starter, who remains on as the backup, while Dakota Prukop handles short-yardage duties.

Bethel-Thompson won’t be the only former Argo expected to make an impact. Canadian receiver Kurleigh Gittens Jr., all-star kicker Boris Bede, and award-winning return man Javon Leake will all make their debuts in green and gold after joining the team this offseason.

Canadian free agent receiver Hergy Mayala and American newcomer Malik Flowers will also make their first starts for the club. Along the offensive line, Canadian right tackle Brett Boyko has been ruled out with a head injury and will be replaced by veteran guard Hunter Steward.


Defensively, the Elks will field a much less experienced lineup, particularly with veteran safety Loucheiz Purifoy on the one-game injured list due to illness. Rookie Kordell Jackson will replace him over the top, while fellow newcomers Devodric Bynum and Leon O’Neal Jr. will get the start at field halfback and strong-side linebacker respectively.

Veteran Nyles Morgan remains at middle linebacker and will be backed up by first-overall 2024 CFL Draft pick Joel Dublanko. American rookie Nick Anderson will make his first start at weak-side linebacker after a strong preseason showing.

Along the defensive line, second-year standouts Elliott Brown and Noah Curtis will get the nod, as will former Stampeders defensive end Romeo McKnight. Former NFL first-round pick Robert Nkemdiche will make his first CFL start at defensive tackle, hoping to revive his career after posting just 4.5 over five seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins, and Seattle Seahawks.

Beginning the year on the six-game injured list are Canadian receivers Gavin Cobb (hip) and Vincent Forbes-Mombleau (hip), American receiver Kyran Moore (knee), Canadian defensive tackle J-Min Pelley (knee), Canadian linebacker Jake Taylor (wrist), and American quarterback Jarret Doege (knee). American defensive lineman Joseph Jackson and Canadian offensive lineman Phil Grohovac will join Boyko (head) and Purifoy (illness) on the one-game injured list as healthy scratches.

The Edmonton Elks (0-0) will host the Saskatchewan Roughriders (0-0) on Saturday, June 8 at Commonwealth Stadium with kickoff slated for 4:00 p.m. EDT. The opposing depth chart can be found here.

Graphic courtesy: Edmonton Elks