Williams returns to Esks secondary
By GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency
|Rod Williams (left) takes on Marcus Henry during a drill at Eskimos practice Tuesday. (IAN KUCERAK/QMI Agency)
EDMONTON - The Edmonton Eskimos just got a primary weapon back in their secondary.
Cornerback Rod Williams has returned to action after missing the last three weeks with a hamstring injury.
Up to that point, the second-year defensive back was the CFL’s top pick-off artist, leading the league with four interceptions.
Now, he has to share that title with the Calgary Stampeders’ Keon Raymond and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ Jovon Johnson, who caught up in his absence.
“That’s been the case for us in a lot of things,” Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed said of some of his elite players who have been slowed down, statistically, by injury. “Fred (Stamps) leading the league in receiving yards, Adarius (Bowman) leading the league in YAC yards and Rod in interceptions.
“We’re being blessed that those guys are returning.”
Williams’s addition, along with fellow cornerback Jykine Bradley’s return last week, gives the Eskimos back their starting secondary for the first time in three weeks.
“It’s absolutely wonderful to have him back,” Reed said of Williams. “Any time you lose a starter in the secondary, it’s just like losing a starter on the O-line with the chemistry aspect of it.
“It’s a vital position, especially in the boundary. He’s going to usually have a tougher matchups and we really missed him out there.”
The gameplan brought in by new defensive co-ordinator Rich Stubler this season has fit right into the hands of Williams. Literally.
As in, he’s been getting hands on opposing passes.
“I expected it because I worked hard in the off-season then I came in and had a great camp and now I’m starting,” said Williams, a five-foot-11, 180-pound product of Alcorn State. “I go out there and play coach Stubler’s scheme and everything just falls in your hands.”
And, more importantly, not into an opposing receiver’s.
Although his body wasn’t able to play, Williams said he kept his mind occupied during his time on the sidelines.
“I learned more sitting out three weeks than I did playing those first seven weeks,” he said. “I’ve been doing a little more film, a little more weight-room.
“I got better within that time.”
And that’s saying a lot for someone leading in a najor defensive category.
“I’m a playmaker and I make plays,” Williams said. “I feel that that role will just pick back up when I get back out there this weekend.”
IN AND OUT: SB Jason Barnes (ribs) returned to practice for the first time in four weeks for some limited reps but will not play in Hamilton on Friday. WR Chris Bauman (back) returned to active duty after spending last week on the one-game injured list. LB T.J. Hill did not practise, after a game-time decision had him sit out last week’s loss against Calgary.
“The one wild card is going to be the status of T.J. Hill,” Reed said. “We’re really going to monitor that one closely. We chose not to practise him (Tuesday).
“He’s a veteran guy, I don’t feel in Week 11 he needs a lot of reps and hopefully he will be available to us.”