Chris Williams was signed by the Lions as a free agent on February 17, after a year with the Ottawa RedBlacks. (CFL)

Williams to make Lions debut as B.C. welcomes Saskatchewan

B.C. will be looking to be better in many areas after last Friday’s 37-26 loss to the Eskimos

Quarterback Travis Lulay was on the sidelines getting ready for the B.C. Lions’ next possession when a Hamilton Tiger-Cats rookie receiver grabbed everyone’s attention.

Inserted into the starting lineup because of injury, Chris Williams collected a short pass and slipped through two would-be tacklers before getting spun around by another.

“He stayed on top of the defender’s body,” Lulay vividly recalled of the 2011 game. “He didn’t get ruled down, popped up and got shot out of a cannon for another 60 yards.

“We’re like, ‘Who is that guy? We’ve never seen this guy before.’ “

Williams would go on to finish with eight catches for 189 yards and a touchdown in an emphatic first step to winning the CFL’s rookie of the year award.

“He caught a hook pattern and went (71 yards) because he out ran everybody,” said B.C. head coach/GM Wally Buono, who was also at Empire Field that night. “It’s hard not to admire that kind of skill.”

The Lions (4-2) will finally get a chance to see what the dynamic speedster can add to their lineup when he makes his debut Saturday against the Saskatchewan Roughriders (2-3) at B.C. Place Stadium.

Williams, 29, signed with B.C. through 2018 this off-season despite recovering from surgery after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his right knee late last season while playing for the Ottawa Redblacks.

After working out on his own for most of training camp and spending the first six weeks of the schedule on the injured list, Williams is eager to get back on the field.

“I’m ready to go out there and just play,” said the soft-spoken New Mexico State product. “It’s been a long time coming.”

In his four CFL seasons split between Hamilton and Ottawa – he spent 2013 and 2014 in the NFL – five-foot-nine, 155-pound Williams has 318 catches for 4,822 yards and 32 touchdowns.

He registered more than 1,200 yards the last two seasons as part of an impressive Redblacks’ receiving corps, including a ridiculous 493 yards and six TDs over the first three games of 2016.

Williams, who nearly joined B.C. in 2015 before signing with Ottawa, had a combined 10 catches for 271 yards and a touchdown in last year’s two meetings with the Lions.

“I just want to do my thing, keep doing what I do, what I’ve been doing my career,” said Williams. “I make plays.”

Needless to say, his new teammates are happy to finally have Williams on their side.

“We’ve been seeing Chris Williams do things against us for a long time,” said Lulay, who will make his third straight start Saturday in place of the injured Jonathon Jennings. “It’s exciting to have him.”

Williams joins a talented group of receivers that includes Emmanuel Arceneaux, Bryan Burnham and Nick Moore. He’ll also likely be called upon to return kicks alongside the electrifying Chris Rainey.

“It’s an awesome situation for our football team,” said Lulay. “It only makes us better.”

B.C. will be looking to be better in many areas following last Friday’s 37-26 road loss to the Edmonton Eskimos — the Lions’ second defeat of the season to their West Division rivals.

The line of scrimmage was the most glaring area of concern after Lulay was sacked four times and under seemingly constant pressure. B.C.’s pass rush was unable to consistently get in the face of Eskimos quarterback Mike Reilly.

“We weren’t as good as we wanted to be,” said Buono. “Have we worked hard to be better this week? Yes. Are we going to be better this week? Yes.”

Saskatchewan is coming off an encouraging 38-27 home win over the Toronto Argonauts where Duron Carter had nine receptions for 131 yards and two touchdowns, including a jaw-dropping one-handed TD grab.

“He should be confident,” Lions cornerback Ronnie Yell said of Carter. “We know he’s going to be confident, but it’s my job to kill that confidence.”

Saskatchewan is aiming for its first road victory of the year, and first win away from home against a division opponent since Week 11 of the 2014 season.

“They’re a very well-coached football team,” Riders head coach/GM Chris Jones told reporters in Regina this week about the Lions. “They’re not invincible, but they play very good, tough, solid football.

“We’ve got to match that physicality.”

Notes: Saskatchewan QB Kevin Glenn is poised to leapfrog Ron Lancaster for sixth on the CFL’s all-time career passing yards list. Glenn sits just 108 yards behind Lancaster (50,535). … Lions defensive back T.J. Lee is out with a dislocated elbow, meaning Steven Clarke will see his first action of the season. … B.C. and Saskatchewan play the rematch Aug. 13 in Regina.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Human remains found at Silver Creek property

RCMP have been searching the property in the 2200 block of Salmon River Road for the past three days

Revelstoke makes list of “coolest ski towns”

Comes in at number two on the Matador Network list of 21

Search at Silver Creek property enters third day

A portion of the property has been cordoned off with black landscaping fabric

Man in custody linked to Silver Creek property search

Police are not saying how this search is related to Curtis Wayne Sagmoen’s current criminal charges

Debate heats up over fire protection

Revelstoke and regional district at odds over fire suppression agreement

VIDEO: Sears liquidation sales continue across B.C.

Sales are expected to continue into the New Year

New B.C. acute care centre opens for young patients, expectant mothers

Facility aims to make B.C. Children’s Hospital visits more comfortable

Search ramps up for B.C. woman after dog, car found near Ashcroft

Jenny Lynn Larocque’s vehicle and dog were found in Venables Valley, but there is no sign of her

Police officer hit by car, stabbed in Edmonton attack back on job

Const. Mike Chernyk, 48, returned to work Thursday

UBC medical students learn to care for Indigenous people

Students in health-related studies to take course, workshop to help better serve Aboriginal people

Dorsett has 2 goals, assist in Canucks’ 4-2 win over Sabres

‘It was a real good hockey game by our group,’ Canucks coach Travis Green said.

Berry disappointed: Bear tries to eat fake fruit on woman’s door wreath

A Winnipeg woman has taken her berry-embellished wreath down, after a hungry bear visited her porch

Symphony trumpets in new season

Kamloops Symphony makes first appearance of the 2017-18 season in Salmon Arm

Column: Back to the land in the 21st century

By Jim Cooperman, Observer columnist There is a slowly growing movement back… Continue reading

Most Read