Take a seat, Reggie

Edmonton Eskimos cornerback Reggie Durden has apparently been benched by coach Danny Maciocia....

Edmonton Eskimos cornerback Reggie Durden has apparently been benched by coach Danny Maciocia. (Edmonton Sun/Perry Mah)

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:11 AM ET

For the first time ever, it appears Reggie Durden is being yanked out of the starting line-up.

After a very difficult month - where he was repeatedly burned in Winnipeg on Canada Day and then flagged five times by officials in his last two games - the six-year CFL veteran has been told by the Edmonton Eskimo coaching staff that CFL rookie Roosevelt Williams will be tried in his cornerback position this week.

"I'm surprised. It is the first time (I've been taken out)," said Durden, who was never pulled in Montreal during his first five years in the league before being traded to Esks during the off-season. "I just have to deal with it. I'm going to face up to it."

Not surprisingly, Eskimo head coach Danny Maciocia will not confirm the starting switch in the secondary. He has until one hour prior to kickoff on Friday night in Vancouver to post his roster.

But Maciocia is stressing that he needs to see a change in his beleaguered defender.

"It is just a question of (Durden) going back to work and regaining that confidence and swagger he had," said the coach.

"I'll tell you right now that last year when we played the Montreal Alouettes in that Grey Cup game we didn't attack his side (of the field).

"Montreal knew that and we knew it.

"He has to return to the player he was."

GETTING A PAYCHEQUE

Durden has been told he will remain on the 46-man roster - meaning he will receive a full paycheque this week, but will likely be one of four healthy scratches.

But, it's Williams's time to shine against the first-place B.C. Lions - and the 27-year-old import believes he's prepared, even though he hasn't played a regular-season game since leaving the NFL more than a year ago.

"They have a pretty lethal offence (in B.C.), but I got a chance to study them by being on the sidelines the first game we played them," said Williams, who has been with the Esks since the start of training camp.

"It benefited me a lot by not playing and watching those guys (in the Edmonton secondary) - seeing how they prepare for the game, and the length of the field."

BEING PICKED ON

The switch this week is anything but a surprise to many football insiders, who have watched teams repeatedly pick on Durden and have success since he imploded in Winnipeg, where he gave up nearly 200 yards to Chris Brazzell and two touchdowns.

Williams knows the Lions are bound to target him on Friday night, but that doesn't bother him.

"The difference between a great corner and an average corner is accepting the challenge and (being) ready (for) whatever they throw at me," he said.

"I have been challenged all of my life."

And that relates to on and off the field.

Growing up in a drug-infested ghetto in Jacksonville, Florida, Williams saw his first murder unfold when he was six years old.

"All the kids were playing basketball and football and some drug dealer was around the corner - and I looked over to the fence and saw somebody walk up to somebody and shoot him straight in the head," he told the Sun during training camp this June.

Williams quickly realized as a youngster that football was his ticket out of the 'hood.

He accomplished that goal by being selected in the third round of the 2002 NFL draft by the Chicago Bears.

Four years later, he finds himself on the hotseat in Edmonton replacing Durden.

"We clearly like what we see," said Maciocia of Williams.

"He's big and strong ... (and) he had a pretty good pre-season."

Now comes the real test.


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