A term you hear in CFL circles quite often is “ratio buster.” A ratio buster refers to a Canadian player who takes a starting position which would normally be occupied by an American player.
In 2017, the Edmonton Elks drafted Kwaku Boateng in the fifth round and now he’s one of the best rush ends in the CFL. In 2019, the Elks selected another Canadian defensive end in Mathieu Betts of the Laval Rouge et Or with the third overall pick.
In his first official training camp with the green and gold, Betts finds himself in rare territory as the starting defensive end opposite Boateng. Most teams will only dress one Canadian at a rush end spot, but Betts would definitely be a ratio buster if he can win a starter’s spot.
Betts played six games in 2019 for Edmonton after a stint with the Chicago Bears and recorded two quarterback sacks, one defensive tackle and one forced fumble. This is his first full CFL training camp and he said that has made a world of difference.
“For me, it was just coming in more confident with what I can do and what I can bring to the team,” Betts said. “I think anybody who’s in this building right now, they deserve a chance to be here.
“I’m just out here trying to do the best as possible, maybe mindset-wise not getting to caught up into pro football and just trying to have some fun.”
Betts was a star with Laval helping the school to a Vanier Cup championship in 2016 and 2018. He was selected as USports Rookie of the Year in 2015 and captured the J.P. Metras awards for the best down lineman in USports for three straight seasons.
Read more: Fans name Edmonton Elks All-Time All-Stars
Betts looks lean for a man who is six-foot-three and 250 pounds, but what he brings, according to head coach Jamie Elizondo, is quickness combined with intensity off the edge, along with a high level of consistency from each play.
“Ruthless consistency. The players who explode on one play and not on the next, Betts is exactly the opposite of that,” Elizondo said. “He shows up to work every day giving great effort, his technique is getting better on the edge.
“(Demetrious) Maxie (D-line coach) is doing a great job of getting him better with his hands and his feet, but really happy with him (Betts) because he’s a tone-setter and that’s what you need on defence.”
Listen below: Edmonton Elks head coach Jamie Elizondo speaks about the battle between Shawn Lemon and Mathieu Betts for one defensive end spot.
Thaddeus Coleman, OL 6’7 320 pounds 36 Mississippi Valley State
While receiver Derel Walker got most of the attention in his return to the field on Monday with the Elks, another player from the 2015 Grey Cup team also returned .
Offensive lineman Thaddeus Coleman also finished up his quarantine and is dressed in green and gold for the third time in his career. Coleman was signed after injuries and retirements depleted the o-line depth, particularly at the tackle spot. Coleman was available and ready to go when the Elks needed someone. He has lived in Edmonton in the offseason since 2014.
After playing the last four seasons with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Coleman has been running a food truck and working as a personal trainer, spending time in the gym at Commonwealth where he often saw GM Brock Sunderland and was an easy fix for the Elks with his knowledge of the team, the city and the league.
“Experience goes a long way, especially when you don’t have preseason games,” said the 36-year-old, who was in Edmonton in 2008 but did not play before then returning to play 21 games between 2013 and 2015 in Edmonton.
Going into his eighth CFL season and 13th in pro ball, he is not worried about getting up to speed.
“After playing so long, it’s like riding a bike,” he said.
“You have to catch up on the playbook, and that will be a little easier for me because I am a veteran — it’s just terminology and stuff that’s different. I keep myself in shape so I am not worried about that part.”
After spending Saturday and Monday indoors because of the poor air quality in Edmonton, the Elks were back on The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium on Tuesdayc, which marks the mid-point of camp. The Elks are scheduled to have one more training camp session on Wednesday before an off day on Thursday.
Watch below: Some Global News videos about the Edmonton Elks.