Chris Williams to make long awaited debut as Lions host Riders

Joshua Clipperton, Canadian Press

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.

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10 Comments on Chris Williams to make long awaited debut as Lions host Riders

  1. Lindsay Wilcox // August 5, 2017 at 4:55 pm //

    Go have a great game Chris ! My preference would be so see him in black and gold lined up next to Speedy Banks.

  2. Loved watching you in Hamilton Chris.
    Have a great game.

  3. SO far (and I will be the first to admit I am biased) I thought BC was better than they showed and Eskimos and Stamps not as good and eventually the cream would rise. I was highly disappointed after our last game, basically not showing up in Edmonton and losing the season series already. Hoping tonight we not only win but in in such a manner as to show that what we have seen so far is not the Lions we will see come November.

    Maybe I am wrong and we are not as good as I thought. Certainly Calgary scoring 100 points in their last two games and Esks winning despite have half of a roster on the 6 game injured list seem to state otherwise, that we are not as good as I thought. We have talented players in the “skill” positions but need to play WAAAY better in the trenches, esp O-Line.

    • Hors E Power // August 5, 2017 at 7:25 pm //

      Calgary is coming for you in 2 weeks BC Dave. You gonna be ready?

      • If we play like we did a week ago, we are screwed. If we play like we did tonight we have a chance. Only thing I’d change about tonight is that we have to get more TDs and less FGs. I was listening to Home post game show and one comment was that score flattered the riders (due to two late scores). Other guy said that even if the score ended up 30-0 it would have flattered the riders. Was not meant as a shot but that we left a few points that we should have had.

  4. Never support this guy the way he screwed the TC’s. Loophole my ass. OB basically rescued this guy from the scrap heap when nobody wanted him. So how does he repay them? Leaves them high and dry just before training camp 2013. Once a weasel and always a weasel. Good reason there is an “I” in his name.

    • He didn’t screw the TCs, his agent told him to walk away after the insulting contract they gave him.
      At least Ottawa paid him for what he was worth and now BC has given him a good contract.
      Shame on the Ticats for paying their Canadian “O” linemen more money.

    • have to agree with Philski on this one.

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