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Elks hit the field for the first 2024 pre-season game against Riders

It’s the first pre-season game for the Edmonton Elks on Saturday afternoon as well as the first for a few newcomers to the green and gold.

Topping the list is new starting quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson, who will lead the Elks against the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Commonwealth Stadium.

Bethel-Thompson, a two-time Grey Cup champion with the Toronto Argonauts, was signed by the Elks in January of this year. Some of his teammates from Toronto followed him to Edmonton.

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Former 1,000-yard receiver Kurliegh Gittens Jr. joined the Elks through a trade. The Elks signed the CFL’s Most Outstanding Special Teams player from 2023, Javon Leake, in free agency.

Former Argos kicker Boris Bede also joined the green and gold from the double blue.

Bethel-Thompson said he’s looking forward to his Elks debut.

“We’re excited to get out there and mix it up and see what it’s like at full speed,” he said.

“We’ve had a good camp and we’ve been stacking days lately so hopefully this is the next step in our progression. We know we have these guys in a couple of weeks as well, so it’s going to be fun to get out there and to be able to mix it up with these guys.”

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Elks quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson is looking forward to stepping on the field for the first time on Saturday in the colours of green and gold. MBT talks about the process of getting to know his new teammates.

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The Elks should dress 82 players with the starters playing most of the first half before giving way to the hopefuls looking to make the roster.

Notable veterans who won’t play on Saturday are starting middle linebacker Nyles Morgan and starting right tackle Brett Boyko.

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The Elks will also be without linebacker Woodly Appolon and defensive tackle Antonio Alfano, who was selected in the supplemental draft this week.

Elks head coach Chris Jones is looking forward to seeing his team in action in the game on Saturday at home to the Riders. Jones reveals how long he plans to play his starters in the game.

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The following are the projected offensive and defensive starters for the Elks:

Offence

Quarterback: McLeod Bethel-Thompson

Running back: Kevin Brown Fulback: Tanner Green

Offensive line: Martez Ivey, David Foucault, Mark Korte, Tomas Jack-Kurdyla, Hunter Steward

Receivers: Eugene Lewis, Kurliegh Gittens Jr., Deontez Alexander, Kyran Moore, Malik Flowers

Defence

Defensive line: Eric Black, Noah Curtis, Robert Nkemdichie, Elliott Brown

Linebackers: Nick Anderson, Reynard Ellis, Leon O’Neal Jr.

Defensive backs: Kai Gray, Darrius Bratton, Loucheiz Purifoy, Devodric Bynum, Marcus Lewis

You can hear Saturday’s pre-season opener between the Elks and Riders on CISN Country 103.9 starting with Countdown to Kick-off with Courtney Theriault at 12:30 p.m.

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The opening kick-off from Commonwealth Stadium will be at 2 p.m., with Morley Scott and Dave Campbell calling all of the live action.

Hear analysis from former Edmonton Football Team offensive lineman and two-time Grey Cup champion Blake Dermott. Former EE offensive lineman Gord Hinse will provide analysis from the Elks’ sidelines.

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