The Nation’s capital has been foaming at the mouth to see 2021’s Most Outstanding Special Teams Player of the Year award winner, DeVonte Dedmon back on the field after he was released by the Miami Dolphins, but lost in the excitement has been what it means for Terry Williams, who has been handling the Redblacks’ kick and punt return duties all season long.
Although Williams has been yet unable to break one for a touchdown, he has been one of the more impressive return men in the CFL this season, averaging nearly 10 yards per punt return, and just under 25.5 yards per kickoff return. With each game, there have been improvements for Williams, but with Dedmon’s addition to the team, opportunities might be hard to come by for the rest of the season for the 26-year-old, says head coach Paul LaPolice.
“The hard part is going to be getting him on the roster,” said LaPolice. “It would basically be a one-for-one swap, but we’ll see what we can figure out. As I told the team today, Terry is a great professional. He had his opportunity, and he did everything correctly. His teammates love him, so we’re happy to keep him in the building.”
Williams will sign kick returning duties over to Dedmon starting this week in Edmonton, LaPolice says. A reduced role is almost certainly on the way for Williams, but both he and Dedmon have been friends before, and this change isn’t going to drive a wedge between them.
“It’s great between us,” Williams said. “When he signed, I was one of the first guys to text him and let him know that we were excited to have him back, let’s compete together and push each other. Even last year when I was here, we always competed in practice and had fun off the field. I was just excited. I’m happy for everybody. Everybody gets to eat. If I just need to help get people better at practice, it’s me getting better too and taking advantage of every opportunity and being ready.”
“I wouldn’t say there’s frustration,” Williams said when asked about his potentially reduced role. “I just have to control what I can control and be ready when my time comes again. I’m excited and happy for everybody. I’m genuinely happy, I’m not just faking it. That was my guy last year, and [he still is]. It’s just staying ready now, you never know when my next opportunity might be. I’ll probably have to be a receiver or running back, I just have to stay ready, because you never know.”
Dedmon has walked into a locker room filled with players who have gone through a tumultuous 1-8 season, and some who have been there since 2019, winning very few games in that time. There was a need for positivity, and that’s exactly what he brings, Williams says.
“He has a good impact,” Williams said. “It’s like when your brother comes back from out of town. You just do all the stuff you used to do, linking back up, and just saying ‘okay, let’s do it.’ It’s just like you never missed a beat. Both of us are taking notes from each other, helping each other get back into the flow of things, and it’s exciting because you know that’s your brother. You’re ready for him to get out there and show what he can do.”
In just his second CFL season, Williams is proud of what he has been able to achieve when he has gotten his chance, and although right now it appears that opportunity may have changed, he’s keeping ready for when the next one comes around.
“It has been exciting,” Williams said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity that I have had to get to play this year. I’m excited to take advantage of it, and I have just been having fun and enjoying it. I’m enjoying being a pro, enjoying the team, enjoying the city, my teammates on and off the field.”
“I’m really just taking it day by day. I’m taking it slow, enjoying the process and being happy. I’m staying ready for the opportunity, whether it’s on offence or on special teams again.”
Williams and Dedmon will still compete in practice and push each other to be better, and there is a level of friendly competition between them. Williams made it clear, however, that if they faced off in a race, he would win.
“Oh, me!” Willaims said with no hesitation when asked who would win the race.
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