Chris Williams could be Devin Hester’s flair apparent at returner
BY MARK POTASH Staff Reporter July 27, 2014 9:33PM
Updated: August 29, 2014 1:12PM
BOURBONNAIS — It’s likely Devin Hester’s replacement will have to do more than return kicks to make the Bears’ roster. That could put Chris Williams in the early lead.
The 5-8, 175-pound Williams, a former CFL all-star returner/receiver, continued to catch everything in sight in training camp Sunday — including a diving catch going toward the middle of the field on a pass from Jimmy Clausen.
“I only know one way to play. This is me. This is what I do, and I just keep playing my way,” said Williams, whom the Bears signed for the final regular-season game last year. “I want to show them I can get better every day and that I can help the team.”
Williams, 26, has speed and experience on his side. He ran a 4.28 40-yard dash at his pro day. He had Hester-like success in two seasons with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2011 and ’12. He needed only nine games to set a CFL record with six kick-return touchdowns in 2012 (five punts and a 119-yard field-goal return). He also had 83 receptions for 1,298 yards and 11 touchdowns.
“The guy can really run,” special-teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis said. “He’s got experience catching balls. Even though it was Canada, it was gamelike situations at a professional level. That beats a rookie, in my opinion. I’ve liked what I’ve seen in OTAs and minicamp.”
If Williams can be as productive playing for coach Marc Trestman as he was playing against him, he has a pretty good shot. Against Trestman’s Montreal Alouettes, Williams scored on a 91-yard punt return in an exhibition game in 2011. Williams also scored on a 70-yard punt return in a regular-season game in 2012, and he had a 117-yard field-goal return against the Alouettes in ’12 but lost a touchdown when he ran the last 15 yards backward and was tackled at the 1.
Former Pro Bowl safety Adrian Wilson is showing signs he has recovered from Haglund’s deformity, a foot injury that prevented him from playing with the New England Patriots last season.
“Absolutely,” secondary coach Jon Hoke said. “You see some movement you’re very pleased with coming off that type of injury.”
Wilson, whom the Bears signed after their June mini-camp, is getting second-team reps and figures to become more prominent as he learns the defense.
“Adrian Wilson would make anybody a better coach — anybody,” Hoke said with a chuckle. “Because he’s a pro. He comes to work every day. His demeanor, the way he takes notes, his willingness to learn, it’s been great.”
Jennings still sore
Cornerback Tim Jennings, who sat out practice Saturday with a sore quad, returned to practice but went back to the sidelines with the same soreness.
“He felt he wasn’t quite ready [and] did the right thing: He took himself out,” Trestman said. “We want to be careful with Tim. He’s had a good spring, and we want to make sure he’s fully healed and give it a shot.”
Wide receiver Terrence Toliver missed practice with a toe injury. Guard Kyle Long (viral infection) and safeties Chris Conte (shoulder) and Craig Steltz (groin) also didn’t practice.