Focusing on roster spot

Defensive backfield hopeful Cedrick Williams stretches at the end of yesterday's Calgary Stampeders...

Defensive backfield hopeful Cedrick Williams stretches at the end of yesterday's Calgary Stampeders practice at McMahon Stadium. The 26-year-old defender has an imaginative way of preparing for his offensive opponents. (Calgary Sun/Jim Wells)

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:52 AM ET

As a college player trying to stay focused, Cedrick Williams would put photos of the receivers he was preparing to cover in his locker.

Such future NFLers as Roy Williams, RaShaun Woods, Darius Watts, Michael Jenkins and Mark Clayton all adorned the defensive back's stall at Kansas State.

Seeing those talented players every time he tied up his cleats, Williams aimed at their competition level. He always managed to hold his own and often shut them down completely.

But Williams hasn't hung photos of fellow defensive backs now that the 26-year-old is trying out for the Calgary Stampeders.

"My competition isn't against the other defensive backs," said Williams, who is from Baca Raton, Fla.

"I'm competing against guys like Nik Lewis, Jeremaine Copeland, Ken-Yon Rambo and Darnell McDonald. I know I can make this team if I perform against them."

In his short time with the Stamps, Williams hasn't even had the luxury of a locker. Rookies keep their things in temporary stalls in the meeting rooms of the McMahon Stadium offices because the locker-room is full of veterans.

So to stay motivated, Williams has adapted to the situation.

"When it comes to one-on-ones, I put the pictures up mentally of Nik, Copeland and Rambo, just for training camp," he said. "As we get past this stage, then I'll be putting up some B.C. Lions to get ready for the game."

The secondary will have the most turnover this season for the Stamps because so many other positions are basically set.

Halfback Joey Boese and safety Trey Young are likely back in their starting spots, while second-year Stamp Jermaine Chatman will have a starting position somewhere once he returns from an ankle injury.

That leaves three positions wide open for the time being and defensive backs coach Tim Burke has liked how Williams, J.R. Ruffin and Crance Clemons have performed in training camp.

All three have shown the ability to play tight man coverage, a focus for Burke this season.

"We want to be better at man than we were last year," Burke said.

"There were times last season when we weren't strong man players.

"Sometimes it was athleticism more than what we were teaching. Technique is important and scheme is important but ability is the most important thing."

Williams has shown in the past week he does have the skill. He has touched the football plenty, whether he has knocked passes down or picked them off.

The question now is where he fits, although he's not worried too much about it right now. He's having too much fun.

"The biggest thing I like about the CFL and the Stampeders is they let you be free and treat you like a man on the field," Williams said.

"They are teaching me how to read the play and the quarterback. There's sometimes six receivers out there so they're letting me use my speed and ability to make plays."


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