Chris Williams looks to give Chicago Bears a new dimension on offense

Chris Williams looks to give Chicago Bears a new dimension on offense
Jose M. Osorio, Chicago Tribune

If you blinked you may have missed him.

Measuring in at 5'8" and 175 pounds, wide receiver Chris Williams often looks like a kid among men out on the practice fields of Olivet Nazarene University.

Undrafted in 2009 out of New Mexico State, Williams initially signed with the Miami Dolphins as a free agent.

After being released by Miami and spending time in Cleveland, Williams moved on to the Canadian Football League. In 2012 he set a CFL record with six return touchdowns to go along with 1,117 punt-return yards for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Williams made his way back into the NFL last season, and the Bears snatched him off the New Orleans Saints practice squad late last December.

Head coach Marc Trestman knows how difficult it can be to contain him.

"When he touched the ball, everybody was on the edge of their seat, and to beat the team he was on you had to neutralize him," Trestman told the Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs in regard to having to game plan for Williams when squaring off against him in the CFL.

Heading into training camp it appeared that Williams was a near lock to claim the kick returner spot, but he has also been impressive as a wide receiver in limited practices in Bourbonnais.

While in attendance at this past Monday’s practice, I noticed Williams getting a lot of work with both the first- and second-team offenses with Alshon Jeffery sitting out of practice with a sore foot.

Williams made the most of his opportunities, including hauling in a diving catch in the middle of the field from Jimmy Clausen that led to cheers and applause from the fans.

"I only know one way to play. This is me. This is what I do, and I just keep playing my way," Williams said this week. "I want to show them I can get better every day and that I can help the team."

While the Bears are set at the top of the wide receiver depth chart with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, the remaining wide receiver spots still have some question marks.

Second-year man Marquess Wilson and veteran Josh Morgan are the likely front runners to secure the three- and four-spots, leaving Williams to battle with the likes of Eric Weems, Terrence Toliver, Dale Moss and Josh Bellamy for likely one final spot.

Both Williams and Weems got extended time with quarterback Jay Cutler on Monday afternoon as Cutler took extra reps with the second team.

"There are a couple of benefits," offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer said about Cutler taking reps with the second team. "One is that he’s getting more reps, and that’s important to us that he takes the most reps because he’ll be running the offense. No. 2, it gets him with other players that could be on the field with him this year and it gets him a feel for how those guys run routes, protect, and those sort of things."

There is no guarantee that Williams will make the roster as anything more than a kick returner, but getting reps with the starting quarterback will only help increase his chances of making an impact in 2014.

While Bears have towering receiving options in Marshall, Jeffery and tight end Martellus Bennett, Williams can help bring them a shifty, quick slot receiver that can create matchup nightmares in certain situations.

"Being a big-time producer is not something that is new to me," Williams said. "For me to have an extended role in the offense would be awesome. Whatever the coaching staff wants me to do, I am more than willing. That is really the bottom line."

He may never be an every down type of receiver, but he has confidence in himself and only stands to grow in Trestman’s offense if given the opportunity.

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