“When I step on this field, it’s all about business.” Riders DB Deontai Williams has already made an impact in Saskatchewan



Even though he has only played in three regular-season games for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, defensive back Deontai Williams has made an impression in green and white.

The Jacksonville, Florida product is third on the team in tackles (17) despite not dressing in the Roughriders opening game.

In addition to the tackles, Williams has emerged as a force in the back end with some heavy hits.

The defensive back tries to create an impact every time he steps on the field.

“When I step on this field, it’s all about business.” explained Williams, who noted the hitting aspect of the game has been something he has focused on since beginning his football career in Florida.

“Hitting always came to me when I was young, I was a big Sean Taylor fan, big Ray Lewis fan back at home, I love to hit guys, I love to be physical out there.”

Williams’s physicality has caught the eye of Head Coach Craig Dickenson.

“He can run, he shows courage out there, anytime you got a guy on defence that can do that you’re going to find a spot for him.”

Dickenson added that Williams’s skillset compliments the other players in Saskatchewan’s secondary.

“He packs a pretty big punch when he comes up, we like to see that, anytime you’re secondary shows physicality it certainly discourages receivers from being too brave.”

The 26-year-old was anxious about his opportunity in Saskatchewan. He signed with the Seattle Seahawks as an undrafted last year and saw action in three preseason games. That would be the last time Williams played meaningful football until his arrival north of the border.

Despite not making the team’s roster after a strong preseason showing, Williams remained undeterred. He was confident that it was only a matter of time before he would be back in the lineup.

One of the adjustments the defensive back has faced this season is the waggle. The defensive back feels it’s difficult dealing with a receiver in constant motion.

“That waggle is something crazy, judging somebody’s speed, coming at you full speed, you got to guard at, it’s tough, it’s challenging.”

The defensive back believes the key to defending the waggle is solidifying his technique, even if his first experience provided plenty of difficulties.

“It was hard,” chuckled Williams, “I was getting frustrated a little bit.”

He credited defensive backs coach Marcus Klund for helping him smooth out the rough edges of his game.

“Very sound, detailed guy, help me everyday. ”

Williams makes it a point to work out before practice every day to better adjust to the Canadian game.

Injuries hit the Roughriders secondary when they lost Nic Marshall in Week 2, opening the door for Williams to take his spot at cornerback. Over the last two weeks, the former Cornhusker has remained in the lineup, playing in the cornerback spot previously occupied by Jeremy Clark. The former Wolverine has missed the last two games as he appeared on the one-game injured list.

With this chance, Williams wants to remain in the starting lineup.

“I wasn’t trying to stay in a position to be renting a position, I want to stay in that position.”

During the preseason, Williams lined up at halfback, he feels having the ability to play all the positions in the secondary has made him a valuable player.

“You want to be that guy because never know when someone goes down and they need you to come in and step and take that spot.”

The versatility of Williams may come in handy for the Roughriders this week. Defensive back Rolan Milligan was at practice in a walking boot. Dickenson said it’s not looking good for Milligan to be on the field on Saturday against the Stampeders.

On Wednesday, Williams shifted to halfback with Clark back at cornerback.



Practice Notebook

  • Defensive Back Rolan Milligan was at practice in walking boot. Dickenson said unless develops quickly, it’s not looking good for Milligan to be on the field on Saturday against the Stampeders.
  • Amari Henderson returned to practice on Wednesday in a limited role at halfback.
  • Micah Teitz left practice was replaced at linebacker by A.J. Allen.
  • Frankie Hickson also left practice. He was listed on the injury report after practice with a back injury.
  • Some tweaking to the defensive alignment, Derrick Moncrief and Jayden Dalke switched positions, with Moncrief lining up at safety and Dalke playing outside linebacker.


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