Veteran McLeod Bethel-Thompson to start at quarterback for Argonauts versus Redblacks

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TORONTO — McLeod Bethel-Thompson wants to help the Toronto Argonauts achieve something they've yet to do this year.

Bethel-Thompson will make a second straight start Wednesday night when Toronto (4-3) hosts the Ottawa Redblacks (2-5) at BMO Field. While having Bethel-Thompson under centre could help create more continuity within the offence, the six-foot-four, 220-pound Bethel-Thompson sees it more as a chance to help the Argos register consecutive wins for the first time this season.

"I think it's bigger than me," he told reporters during a video conference Monday. "It's about getting back-to-back wins.

"We haven't done that yet this year. We need to make that step forward, we need to start expecting to be good, not finding out who we are in the first quarter but expecting to be good and proving it to ourselves. Doing that in back-to-back games I think is really important and that's what I am looking forward to."

Bethel-Thompson, 33, was 13-of-19 passing for 210 yards and two touchdowns in Toronto's 30-27 home win over Montreal on Sept. 24. Argos head coach Ryan Dinwiddie said Bethel-Thompson suffered a knee ailment against the Alouettes but was cleared medically to play against Ottawa.

Bethel-Thompson has started three games this season, posting a 2-1 record as the starter.

But Dinwiddie is unsure who'll serve as Bethel-Thompson's backup. Nick Arbuckle (hamstring) didn't suit up against Montreal so Antonio Pipkin was Toronto's second quarterback and ran the club's short-yardage offence.

Pipkin also completed two-of-three passes for 34 yards against Montreal, his former team.

Dinwiddie said if Pipkin suits up, he'll definitely see action versus the Redblacks.

"If he's going to be dressed, we're going to use him," Dinwiddie said. "We want to let him run our short-yardage package but also want to get him on the field, get some throws maybe some QB runs.

"He'll get some snaps for sure."

Toronto has the luxury of three veteran quarterbacks on its roster who've all started in the CFL. But that can also create a lot of angst and animosity with only one being able to play.

However, Dinwiddie — himself a former CFL quarterback — praised his three veterans for making the situation work.

"All three of those guys are here early in the morning at the same time, they're all together working," Dinwiddie said. "Those guys are pretty tight.

"It's not easy when there's only one guy that can play. The way those guys have handled themselves, they push each other to make each other better and help each other out. It's been tremendous."

Bethel-Thompson agreed.

"That could easily be toxic," he said of having three veteran quarterbacks. "But the quality of man that Nick Arbuckle is and the quality of man that Antonio Pipkin is, it makes it easy.

"It's awesome to be part of a room with two really awesome people."

Toronto is 3-0 at BMO Field this season and a win would move the club into sole possession of first in the East Division. But Ottawa is coming off a 34-24 win over Edmonton last week, a game that saw rookie quarterback Caleb Evans throw three TD strikes and run for a team-high 59 yards in his CFL debut.

"It seems like they got their mojo back a little bit," Dinwiddie said of the Redblacks. "They have a new quarterback, he's undefeated right now and I think they're going to come in with confidence.

"We just have to make sure we start fast . . . we know they're a good team. They're better than their record."

Bethel-Thompson also gave Ottawa's defence a tip of the cap but said registering consecutive wins is crucial for Toronto.

"They're a dangerous defence," he said. "We've got to be able to win back-to-back games, we've got to be able to raise our standard that good is a given . . . and we strive for great.

"We haven't proven that yet. We've fluctuated and dipped below the bar too many times and we've got to get two wins back to back. That's huge for us to start the momentum on this back half."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 4, 2021.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

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