The 2022 season did not go the way a lot of people associated with the Saskatchewan Roughriders thought it would. One person who had one of the rougher seasons, no pun intended, was star receiver Duke Williams.
The 2018 CFL all-star missed the team’s final eight games of the season dealing with various injuries, the worst of which seems to be an ankle injury that head coach Craig Dickenson said is requiring surgery.
“He’s scheduled for off-season surgery on that ankle,” Dickenson said. “We don’t know exactly where he’s at with that.”
The 29-year-old had arguably his worst season as a pro, catching just 29 passes for 440 yards and four touchdowns in eight games. The injuries that piled up were one of the main reasons for his statistical decline, according to his head coach.
“I think it was a disappointing year for Duke and a lot of it was out of his hands. He just was injured early and couldn’t back to 100 percent,” Dickenson stated.
Williams returned to the CFL with Saskatchewan at the tail end of the truncated 2021 season, playing in the final four games of the regular season after spending the previous two seasons on and off the Buffalo Bills’ practice roster.
He posted 17 catches for 285 yards and one touchdown in 2021, giving many observers the indication that the man who led the league in receiving in 2018 was going to pick up right where he left off.
Despite only suiting up in eight games, last season was an eventful one for physical pass catcher, incurring a one-game suspension for throwing a helmet at an opponent and being fined by the CFL for celebrating a Week 10 touchdown by eating nachos with fans. A fan in Riderville came to Williams’ defence by setting up a GoFundMe campaign to cover the cost of the fine, while another fan trolled the league by sending an order of nachos to their head office.
Despite not living up to the lofty expectations that came with his arrival in Riderville, the team is still high on the four-year veteran.
“He’s certainly still one of the best players in the league,” said Dickenson. “If he can get that leg of his back to 100 percent and he’s training the way needs to I still think he’’s an outstanding football player.”
On whether or not the team still has Williams in their plans going forward, however, Dickenson played a little coy.
“We haven’t moved on from anyone specifically. We’re going to always do what’s best for the team and have conversations with our best players,” he said.
“We’ll continue to visit with him until the day comes when someone else can (talk to Williams) and outbids us.”
According to Dickenson, the organization has not made final decisions on any players, including Williams, and doesn’t plan to do so until they have to.
“We’re in the mix for all of our guys that we feel can help us. We’ve had conversations, football ops and the coaching staff, and we’ll continue to have those conversations and make more definitive answers closer to free agency.”