Rey Williams out for the season with ACL tear
The loss of linebacker Rey Williams is a big blow for the Saskatchewan Roughriders' defense.
Head Coach Corey Chamblin did get an update from the team's medical staff on Tuesday afternoon and the news isn't good for Williams.
"It ended up being an ACL tear," said Chamblin. "He won't return for this year; he'll start rehab here in a little while."
Williams was a contender for the team's defensive player of the year before the injury, so his presence will definitely be missed on the field.
"Personally you always feel bad for all the guys," said Chamblin. "Rey was a leader on our team, he'll continue to be one."
Someone who knows Williams pretty well is fellow linebacker Mike McCullough, who said the news was devastating to the room. He compared Williams to Rob Bagg when it comes to popularity in the locker room.
McCullough is also one of the players being asked to fill the void for now. "One" of the players is the key word, as McCullough knows he can't do the job alone.
"I can't replace Rey. I'm not Rey," said McCullough. "I don't think any middle linebacker in the league is Rey."
This week McCullough, along with Diamond Ferri and Brian Peters, will be asked to fill the void. The plan seems to be working by committee to get the job done.
"All of those guys will see different times at linebacker," said Chamblin. "We'll do some things that will hopefully keep teams guessing."
For McCullough it's an opportunity to play that he takes grudgingly because of his relationship with Williams, but he admits this is what he's here for, calling himself a "Swiss army knife." He feels the team can plug him wherevery he's needed and he'll do his best.
It's certainly been a year that McCullough didn't expect. When he re-signed in the off-season he joked that he didn't expect to play much outside of special teams. That was true for a while, but then he didn't get to play special teams either because of a bicep injury that kept him out until last week. Now McCullough will be seeing a lot more time on defense than he expected, on top of special teams duties.
Time is something Peters is starting to see more of as well, as his time of the field has been growing every week since he was inserted in the lineup for Ferri. The change was made after Ferri took a number of undisciplined penalties over the course of three games earlier this season.
"I'm playing special teams, getting more snaps on defense," said Peters. "I'm getting more comfortable."
Peters may need to make an adjustment should he find himself in the middle, as he's been more of a cover linebacker or even a safety in the past. The biggest difference for Peters will be working with his hands.
"I believe I have good eyes, good feet," said Peters. "The physical part, getting my leverage and all that is a little tougher because I'm taller."
Peters knows it comes down to being confident and just doing what is asked of you, so he isn't too nervous.
"Football is football," said Peters. "You tackle the guy with the brown thing; it's a simple game when it comes down to it."
The three-man rotation appears to be the plan for now, but that could change down the road as Abraham Karma is set to come off the nine-game injured list in a few weeks. The team does still have the option of taking one more player off that list, but Chamblin hinted on Wednesday that it's a move they would prefer not to make at this point.
News and Notes:
- Dwight Anderson returned to practice on Wednesday and will likely play this week. It appears Carlos Thomas isn't a lock to come off the roster, as there's been some changes which could see either Prince Miller or Macho Harris come off instead.
- Ben Heenan, Sam Hurl and Weston Dressler all missed practice. Dressler had another veteran day and is expected to return on Thursday. Heenan and Hurl's status remained up in the air.
- With Heenan out, Patrick Neufeld returned back to his natural right tackle spot while Devin Tyler worked at right guard. They did switch at times. Chamblin says who plays and where will depend on if Heenan can play against Toronto or not.