REGINA — It was almost like Rey Williams never left the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
The 32-year-old linebacker, who spent the first three years of his career in Saskatchewan, signed with the Roughriders on Monday. And according to Riders GM Brendan Taman, his return is a welcomed one.
“Rey is a guy we never wanted to lose a few years ago,” said Taman. “He was obviously pretty good over the last few years and was very well liked in our locker room and is still a really good player,” he added.
William’s arrival in Riderville signaled the end for fellow linebacker Joe Lobendahn, who joined the Green and White last August and played in nine games.
Taman believes that Williams is an upgrade in the middle linebacker spot. “Joe did a good job for us in the half year that he was here, but realistically we knew we were going to make a change there,” said Taman. “When a guy like Rey becomes available, we’re going to jump on him.”
Williams re-joins the Riders after spending the previous two seasons with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Last season he recorded 94 defensive tackles, eight special teams tackles, three quarterback sacks and one interception in 18 regular season games. He was named a 2012 East Division All-Star.
Before signing with the Ticats in 2011, the Westbury, NY native enjoyed spent three seasons (2007-09) with the Roughriders, where he recorded 98 defensive tackles, 29 special teams tackles, six sacks, five forced fumbles and one interception in 31 regular season games.
Taman believes that Williams’ familiarity with the team played an integral role in reeling him back in.
“He had (other) options, but I think the familiarity with the province and the organization and the guys that are still left, I think that helped us for sure,” he said.
Another major reason why Williams ultimately opted to return to Regina is his relationship with Head Coach Corey Chamblin. Chamblin was Williams’ defensive coordinator while with the Tiger-Cats.
“Corey helps, there’s no question about it. Corey’s familiarity with him is obviously important,” he said.
Over the course of the 2013 off-season, the Riders have been busy adding some experience to what was known last year as a relatively young roster. Taman hopes that the addition of Williams provides some leadership to the locker room.
“From talking to the coaches that he had over the last couple of years, yes, I would say he can,” answered Taman when asked if Williams can still be a leader.
“I totally expect him to be a leader in the locker room.”