Vikings No. 3 QB trying to prove he belongs

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 29, 2013 - 8:26 AM

McLeod Bethel-Thompson works to refine his touch.

 

McLeod Bethel-Thompson is usually the last Vikings player to leave the field after practice. As players and coaches stream into the locker room, Bethel-Thompson stays behind to throw passes to anyone willing to catch them. He’s also one of the first players to arrive at Winter Park every morning and among the last to leave.

“He’s one of those guys you would refer to as a gym rat,” offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said.

Bethel-Thompson, the No. 3 quarterback, has a simple explanation: “I’ve got to get better.”

Bethel-Thompson should get ample work in the Vikings’ final preseason game Thursday night against Tennessee. Christian Ponder won’t play and Matt Cassel might get limited snaps, giving coaches an opportunity to evaluate Bethel-Thompson extensively.

The fourth preseason game offers bubble players one last chance to impress before final cuts, which come Friday and Saturday. Bethel-Thompson wants to prove he deserves a spot on the 53-man roster.

As Vikings fans fret over Ponder’s long-term viability and debate whether Cassel is an upgrade, Bethel-Thompson toils as an intriguing project with a cannon arm whose future in the NFL remains an open-ended question.

Inactive for all 16 regular-season games in 2012, Bethel-Thompson served as Joe Webb’s backup in the playoff game against Green Bay with Ponder sidelined because of an arm injury. There’s speculation that Webb’s bid to make the team as a wide receiver this season could impact Bethel-Thompson’s fate. In theory, the Vikings don’t need a third quarterback if they keep Webb, because he could play quarterback in a pinch.

Vikings coaches, however, seem encouraged by Bethel-Thompson’s progress. The young quarterback said he feels “light years ahead” of his rookie season, but … “I don’t think I’m even close to what I can be,” he said.

Bethel-Thompson has the strongest arm of the Vikings quarterbacks by far, but he’s still learning the finer points of the position, including how to throw passes with touch instead of constant fastballs.

“We all like to watch a guy who can throw the ball deep,” quarterbacks coach Craig Johnson said. “But there’s more to the game. He has a naturally gifted arm, hard worker, the whole nine yards. But he just has to learn how to slow down a little bit because he gets a little excitable.”

That’s understandable considering his unconventional path. Injuries limited Bethel-Thompson to only 24 games in college — not all of them as a starter — split between UCLA and Sacramento State. He has logged time in Arena Football, United Football League and the Miami Dolphins practice squad.

“I’m so happy and so lucky and so blessed to be able to play this game that I would still be playing if I was in the Arena League making $200 a week,” he said. “If Coach told me I had to run a mountain to be the starter, I’d go run a mountain.”

No one questions his dedication, but the direction his career takes will hinge on his ability to refine his game to complement his strong arm. He spent hours this offseason throwing footballs into buckets, a drill designed to improve his accuracy and touch.

Johnson noted that a strong arm can be a “curse” sometimes because young quarterbacks have a tendency to become overly confident in their ability to squeeze passes into tight windows.

“I’ve never met a big-armed guy who has not had that mentality,” Johnson said. “What you have to guard against is, while I do have a big arm, I just can’t rely on my arm strength.”

Bethel-Thompson is striving to find that balance while also understanding that reps in practice are minimal for the No. 3 quarterback. That’s the biggest challenge, he said, which is why he stays late after practice.

Johnson said coaches want to see how Bethel-Thompson handles himself Thursday night. They’re evaluating whether he can get the offense into the right plays and protections and show command of the system.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Mets - LP: J. Familia 6 FINAL
Miami - WP: A. Ramos 9
Philadelphia - WP: C. Hamels 7 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: J. Teheran 0
Boston - LP: B. Badenhop 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: G. Balfour 4
Minnesota - WP: P. Hughes 6 FINAL
Baltimore - LP: K. Gausman 4
Pittsburgh - LP: G. Cole 4 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: S. Maness 5
Milwaukee - LP: J. Nelson 2 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Turner 4
Detroit 5 Bottom 4th Inning
Cleveland 1
Seattle 0 Top 6th Inning
Oakland 5
San Francisco - WP: J. Affeldt 4 FINAL
Colorado - LP: C. Friedrich 2
Arizona 0 Top 5th Inning
San Diego 1
San Francisco - T. Hudson 4:45 PM
Colorado - F. Morales
Washington - G. Gonzalez 7:10 PM
Los Angeles - R. Hernandez
Texas - C. Lewis 7:10 PM
Kansas City - Y. Ventura
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
Buffalo 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
New Orleans 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta
Minnesota 9/7/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Cleveland 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Jacksonville 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Oakland 9/7/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
Cincinnati 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Washington 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Tennessee 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
New England 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Carolina 9/7/14 3:25 PM
Tampa Bay
San Francisco 9/7/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Indianapolis 9/7/14 7:30 PM
Denver
Utah State 7 FINAL
Tennessee 38
SMU 0 FINAL
(10) Baylor 45
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(7) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(16) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(2) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(15) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 30 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35
Toronto 12 FINAL
Hamilton 13
Edmonton 7 5:50
Calgary 15
Indiana 52 4th Qtr 9:25
Chicago 50
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How many fantasy football teams do you draft?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close