Buffalo Bills News: Duke Williams, Preseason Standout And Former CFL Star, Elevated To Active Roster

Duke Williams catches a touchdown in a preseason game.
Dave Reginek / Getty Images

Buffalo Bills fans could finally get a look at Duke Williams in regular season action.

The Bills announced Saturday that the former Canadian Football League star and preseason standout was elevated from the practice squad to the active roster, filling a roster vacancy. Williams had led the CFL in receiving last year with 1,579 yards over the course of the 18-game season. He also had 11 touchdowns.

As the team noted, Williams had a strong preseason, catching six passes for 53 yards and a pair of touchdowns across two games. Williams could give the Bills a dimension currently lacking from its receiving corps — the ability to fight for balls in traffic. At 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, Williams will be the biggest body on the field for Buffalo.

Many fans had been clamoring for a look at Williams, who was a surprise cut to end the preseason but signed to the team’s practice squad. The Bills have struggled at times on offense this year, with quarterback Josh Allen falling victim to mistakes and at times appearing to not be on the same page as his wide receivers. The team has five dropped passes this year, ninth in the NFL.

The Bills had freed up a roster spot after releasing offensive tackle Conor McDermott on Thursday. There was some thought that they could be saving a roster spot to bring in quarterback Davis Webb from the practice squad if Allen was not able to play on Sunday, but Allen cleared concussion protocol on Saturday and is expected to start. Allen had been knocked out of last week’s loss to the New England Patriots after taking a hit to the head in the fourth quarter.

The roster move leaves the Bills with seven wide receivers, higher than the team normally keeps for that position, but receiver Robert Foster is questionable for Sunday’s game.

There is a chance that Williams could get a significant role right away. As Bills Wire noted, third-year receiver Zay Jones has had a disappointing start to the season.

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“Last year, Jones rebounded from a poor rookie season to notch 56 catches, 652 yards and seven touchdowns. Jones’ current numbers put him on pace for 28 catches and 276 yards so basically the same as his rookie season,” the report noted.

While it’s not clear if Jones’ spot could be in danger with the elevation of Williams from the practice squad, Jones has seen his role in the passing game fall off with the addition of Cole Beasley and John Brown this year.

The Bills travel to Nashville on Sunday to take on the Tennessee Titans. It is not clear yet if Williams will be on the game-day roster.