QB Bethel-Thompson living his dream

QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson is making a play for the Vikings' No. 3 quarterback spot, but there are plenty of factors in that decision. For now, the 2011 football nomad is happy to have an extended stay with an NFL team and hoping to make the most of his opportunity.

The assumption throughout the offseason is that the Vikings had their three top quarterbacks.

To hear Leslie Frazier tell it, however, they may have their top two decided with Christian Ponder and Joe Webb, respectively, but the third spot is not necessarily the unchallenged domain of veteran Sage Rosenfels. First-year QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson is making a push.

"We feel like we have identified our starting quarterback, we feel pretty good about our No. 2 quarterback, so right now (Bethel-Thompson) is fighting for that third spot," Frazier said Wednesday. "Things could change, but he is fighting to be that third quarterback. There is a battle to get that done, we are not pigeonholed in saying he has to be a practice squad quarterback, but we will see what happens.

The Vikings wanted to get a look at Bethel-Thompson in their initial preseason outing last Friday. This week, Rosenfels will be the third quarterback in the game and Bethel-Thompson's opportunity will depend on the flow of the game.

His initial appearance in purple held special meaning for the former San Francisco resident who spent time with the 49ers in training camp last year.

"It was awesome. Anytime you get in an NFL game, it's exciting," Bethel-Thompson said. "Anytime you get to play football after a year off, it's exciting to get back on the field and it makes it even more special to be back in the hometown with my parents watching and everything, the family. It was good.

"I felt like I had some good throws. I have a lot to improve on. There's so much to get better at. I guess that's the exciting part is that there is a lot of room to improve. Just go back to work and keep the grind going."

His parents, his brother, his brother's fiancée, and even some friends who work at Candlestick Park were all in attendance (the friends were easy to spot with bright yellow work vests).

Bethel-Thompson finished the game completing 3 of 7, but taking two sacks and throwing the only interception among Vikings quarterbacks left him with just a 27.7 rating.

"It was very encouraging because I didn't feel like anything was too fast. I felt like I knew what the defense was doing, I had a good feel for the game," he said. "A lot of it is myself. I need to work on my technique and getting myself knowing the plays better and getting more comfortable out there. In terms of the game speed, that wasn't a factor. I felt very comfortable knowing the defense and what was going on. It's just more what I need to work on – my footwork, my ball placement, that type of stuff."

After a hectic 2011, Bethel-Thompson is getting his first extended NFL opportunity to concentrate on one playbook. Because of the NFL lockout last year, he began his professional career in 2011 in the Arena League with the San Jose SaberCats. After spending training camp and preseason with the 49ers, he was released and played in the United Football League with the Sacramento Mountain Lions, led by former Vikings coach Dennis Green. And, finally, the last two weeks of the NFL season were spent on the Miami Dolphins' practice squad.

The Vikings made their pitch to him after watching the UFL tape of him and believing the former UCLA and Sacramento State QB with a big arm had a chance to develop.

"They said that I had a chance and I came in and they kind of told me that I would get a fair shot to show them what I had and that they had a place for me and that they had a plan for me and that they had something in the works," he said. "That's all you can ask as a player, especially a player coming in with no hype behind my name. That's all I want is a shot, a fair shot. And if I do well, hopefully I will be rewarded with that shot."

Bethel-Thompson may be the best young quarterback that wasn't drafted early the Vikings have had since 2007 with Tyler Thigpen, whom they will see Friday night as a member of the Buffalo Bills.

"I was impressed with the way he came in and had the confidence he has shown in practice," Frazier said of Bethel-Thompson. "He threw the ball around, he was confident with the some of the things he did. I thought he did a good job."

Now the question is where Bethel-Thompson fits in with the Vikings, if at all. He has practice-squad eligibility, which would seem the most likely option if he sticks around.

Sage Rosenfels, with his 11 years of NFL experience, would seem a logical third quarterback to mentor Ponder and Webb, neither of whom has more than 10 games of NFL starting experience. The Vikings also gave Rosenfels $500,000 in guaranteed money as part of a two-year deal that will pay him $1.5 million each of the next two seasons. However, keeping Bethel-Thompson would only cost $395,000. Either way, Frazier indicated that Rosenfels will have to earn his spot as the third quarterback.

"We like having Sage. That is the reason we brought him back, because of his veteran experience," Frazier said. "We will see how it all shakes out. There is competition all across the board, even in that third quarterback spot."

If the possibility exists for Bethel-Thompson to make the 53-man roster, he is trying not to let it overwhelm him. He mentioned several times in an interview this week that he concentrates on what he can control – his practice habits and performance in limited action in preseason games – and tries not to look into the future.

As long as he is on an NFL roster with a shot to extend his stay, he is living his dream.

"There's only 2,000-some guys that get to do this right now and I'm one of them. I'm trying to make the most of it," he said.

"It's a dream come true to be able to play in the NFL. When you have down time, you embrace that and think about how thankful you are and the hard work you want to put in to stay here and make an impact in this league."


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.



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\r\n\r\n","mobileBody":"The assumption throughout the offseason is that the Vikings had their three top quarterbacks. To hear Leslie Frazier tell it, however, they may have their top two decided with Christian Ponder and Joe Webb, respectively, but the third spot is not necessarily the unchallenged domain of veteran Sage Rosenfels. First-year QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson is making a push. \"We feel like we have identified our starting quarterback, we feel pretty good about our No. 2 quarterback, so right now (Bethel-Thompson) is fighting for that third spot,\" Frazier said Wednesday. \"Things could change, but he is fighting to be that third quarterback. There is a battle to get that done, we are not pigeonholed in saying he has to be a practice squad quarterback, but we will see what happens. The Vikings wanted to get a look at Bethel-Thompson in their initial preseason outing last Friday. This week, Rosenfels will be the third quarterback in the game and Bethel-Thompson's opportunity will depend on the flow of the game. His initial appearance in purple held special meaning for the former San Francisco resident who spent time with the 49ers in training camp last year. \"It was awesome. Anytime you get in an NFL game, it's exciting,\" Bethel-Thompson said. \"Anytime you get to play football after a year off, it's exciting to get back on the field and it makes it even more special to be back in the hometown with my parents watching and everything, the family. It was good. \"I felt like I had some good throws. I have a lot to improve on. There's so much to get better at. I guess that's the exciting part is that there is a lot of room to improve. Just go back to work and keep the grind going.\" His parents, his brother, his brother's fiancée, and even some friends who work at Candlestick Park were all in attendance (the friends were easy to spot with bright yellow work vests). Bethel-Thompson finished the game completing 3 of 7, but taking two sacks and throwing the only interception among Vikings quarterbacks left him with just a 27.7 rating. \"It was very encouraging because I didn't feel like anything was too fast. I felt like I knew what the defense was doing, I had a good feel for the game,\" he said. \"A lot of it is myself. I need to work on my technique and getting myself knowing the plays better and getting more comfortable out there. In terms of the game speed, that wasn't a factor. I felt very comfortable knowing the defense and what was going on. It's just more what I need to work on – my footwork, my ball placement, that type of stuff.\" After a hectic 2011, Bethel-Thompson is getting his first extended NFL opportunity to concentrate on one playbook. Because of the NFL lockout last year, he began his professional career in 2011 in the Arena League with the San Jose SaberCats. After spending training camp and preseason with the 49ers, he was released and played in the United Football League with the Sacramento Mountain Lions, led by former Vikings coach Dennis Green. And, finally, the last two weeks of the NFL season were spent on the Miami Dolphins' practice squad. The Vikings made their pitch to him after watching the UFL tape of him and believing the former UCLA and Sacramento State QB with a big arm had a chance to develop. \"They said that I had a chance and I came in and they kind of told me that I would get a fair shot to show them what I had and that they had a place for me and that they had a plan for me and that they had something in the works,\" he said. \"That's all you can ask as a player, especially a player coming in with no hype behind my name. That's all I want is a shot, a fair shot. And if I do well, hopefully I will be rewarded with that shot.\" Bethel-Thompson may be the best young quarterback that wasn't drafted early the Vikings have had since 2007 with Tyler Thigpen, whom they will see Friday night as a member of the Buffalo Bills. \"I was impressed with the way he came in and had the confidence he has shown in practice,\" Frazier said of Bethel-Thompson. \"He threw the ball around, he was confident with the some of the things he did. I thought he did a good job.\" Now the question is where Bethel-Thompson fits in with the Vikings, if at all. He has practice-squad eligibility, which would seem the most likely option if he sticks around. Sage Rosenfels, with his 11 years of NFL experience, would seem a logical third quarterback to mentor Ponder and Webb, neither of whom has more than 10 games of NFL starting experience. 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As long as he is on an NFL roster with a shot to extend his stay, he is living his dream. \"There's only 2,000-some guys that get to do this right now and I'm one of them. I'm trying to make the most of it,\" he said. \"It's a dream come true to be able to play in the NFL. 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