‘It’ll be a big impact if he doesn’t play’: Star receiver Duke Williams a game-time decision for Riders

The Saskatchewan Roughriders acquired free agent receiver Duke Williams late in the season to give them a game-changing deep threat come playoff time, but he may not be able to go come the West Final.

The Riders listed Williams as a game-time decision on their official depth chart Saturday and if he isn’t able to dress, it will be a massive blow to the team.

“He’s a big one for us, there’s no doubt. We’re hopeful he can play, but he’s got this toe bothering him. It’s going to be a thing where we’ll go out pregame and move around a little bit and we’ll just ask him how he feels,” head coach Craig Dickenson said at the pre-game media conference.

“If he can go, I think he will go. If he doesn’t, we’ll dress Rashard Davis, he’s a guy we brought along to take his place. It’ll be a big impact if he doesn’t play, that’s for sure.”

Since being acquired by the Riders, Williams has caught 22 passes for 340 yards and a touchdown in five games, while also recovering three onside kicks. He caught all five of his targets in the West Semi-Final win over the Stampeders, picking up 55 yards in the victory.

Williams spent parts of the last three years in the NFL. He was waived by the Buffalo Bills with a hamstring injury in August after earning nearly $700,000 over two seasons in Western New York.

The 28-year-old dressed for one game in 2020 while spending the rest of the schedule on the practice squad. The six-foot-three, 225-pound target made 12 catches for 166 yards and one touchdown — a game-winning TD in his NFL debut – in four games during the 2019 season.

The Los Angeles native has played 31 career CFL games recording 134 receptions for 2,294 yards and 15 touchdowns, averaging 17.1 yards per catch. If there is even the slimmest possibility that Williams can play, the Riders will seize it.

“He just needs to tell us he feels fine. He’s got to be able to move around, push off that foot and feel like he can run and contribute that way. If he can’t push off, if there’s just too much pain when he’s running, he’s going to let us know and we’ll make the decision from there,” Dickenson stressed. “It’s really up to him whether he feels he’s able to go. If he feels he’s able to go, we’ll dress him.”

One player the Riders are sure to have in the lineup however is CFL sack leader A.C. Leonard, who a day ago was dubbed a game-time decision in his own right. Dickenson has now stated that Leonard will be ready to go come game-time.

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