Duke Williams not yet in Saskatchewan, Riders hope he’ll play after Week 11 bye

Photo courtesy: Edmonton Elks

The Saskatchewan Roughriders are expecting Duke Williams to arrive in Regina on Sunday after signing with the team earlier this week.

“We’re pleased to have Duke,” said head coach Craig Dickenson. “We’ll see him I think sometime later in the week. We’re hoping to get him some work and hopefully see him after the bye.”

Williams will not play on Saturday when the Riders host the Calgary Stampeders for a rematch at Mosaic Stadium. The club is on a bye the following week, after which they are hopeful their new receiver will be in the lineup when they visit the Stamps on Saturday, Oct. 23.

“We felt like Duke could really improve our roster. There’s a number of guys available that we looked at and kicked the tires on and Duke was priority No. 1 for us. We felt like a big, strong receiver is always a good add whether you’re dressing two Americans or three,” said Dickenson.

“The reality is a big, strong proven commodity in the CFL is something you want to go after and little tweaks here and there can really make big differences down the stretch.”

The six-foot-three, 225-pound receiver has a history with Saskatchewan assistant general manager Paul Jones and offensive coordinator Jason Maas from their time together in Edmonton. He is now the second-highest-paid receiver on the Riders and will be expected to help the team connect on more 50-50 balls down the field.

Williams spent the past two years in the NFL as a member of the Buffalo Bills but was named a CFL all-star in 2018 after recording 88 catches for 1,579 yards and 11 touchdowns in 18 games.

Dickenson also indicated that receiver Shaq Evans is expected to be out another three to four weeks as he recovers from a broken foot. He was originally hopeful that the star receiver would be ready to play following the bye week, but that now seems unlikely.

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.