NEWS
07/27/2011 02:12 EDT | Updated 09/26/2011 05:12 EDT

Chris Williams emerging as a big-play receiving threat for Hamilton Ticats

Avon Cobourne faces his former teammates Friday night, but containing the emotional running back won't be the top priority of the Montreal Alouettes defence.

Diminutive rookie Chris Williams has emerged as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats' go-to receiver this season with 16 catches for 250 yards and three touchdowns, all team highs. With veteran Maurice Mann (foot) injured and all-star slotback Arland Bruce III (nine catches, 104 yards, no TDs) off to a slow start, the five-foot-nine, 155-pound Williams has solidified his spot in the starting lineup despite not playing in the team's season opener.

Avon Cobourne faces his former teammates Friday night, but containing the emotional running back won't be the top priority of the Montreal Alouettes defence.

Diminutive rookie Chris Williams has emerged as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats' go-to receiver this season with 16 catches for 250 yards and three touchdowns, all team highs. With veteran Maurice Mann (foot) injured and all-star slotback Arland Bruce III (nine catches, 104 yards, no TDs) off to a slow start, the five-foot-nine, 155-pound Williams has solidified his spot in the starting lineup despite not playing in the team's season opener.

Williams had eight catches for 189 yards and a TD in Hamilton's 39-31 road win over the B.C. last weekend.

The Ticats made a much bigger splash in CFL free agency when they signed Cobourne, who spent five seasons with Montreal and was the MVP of the club's 2009 Grey Cup win. Not only did Hamilton look to Cobourne to inject life into their ground game but also bring the fire and emotional play he routinely displayed with the Alouettes.

Cobourne has been an effective player for Hamilton this season, standing third among CFL rushers with 264 yards (5.5-yard average). He also has 11 receptions for 83 yards.

Last week against B.C., Cobourne rushed for 100 yards on 14 carries against B.C., scoring his first two TDs as a Ticat.

Running on Montreal won't be easy, though. The Als are ranked second against the run, giving up just 89 yards a game on the ground.

Here's a look at other situations worthy of consideration this week:

ANTHONY CALVILLO

The Montreal Alouettes star quarterback was back practising Wednesday after suffering an eye injury in the first half of Sunday's 27-24 loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders. That's a pretty good indicator he will start Friday in Hamilton.

Calvillo began experiencing blurred vision in his right eye after being hit by former Alouettes defensive lineman Dario Romero while throwing a pass that was intercepted by linebacker Sean Lucas.

The Alouettes are a much different offence without Calvillo. Backup Adrian McPherson scored two TDs and threw for another, but the unit generally struggled with him under centre.

Not only is Calvillo an 18-year CFL veteran who has seen almost any defensive alignment a team can throw at him, but he's also a master of getting the ball out of his hands quickly and, more importantly, accurately. His precision throws are very tough to defend and a big reason why Montreal sports the league's top-scoring offence at 33.2 points per game.

RICHARD HARRIS

Stellar defensive play has anchored the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' solid start to the season but the entire team will be playing with a heavy heart Thursday night against the B.C. Lions.

Richard Harris, the Bombers' assistant head coach and defensive line coach, died Tuesday after collapsing in his office. He was 63.

Harris was more than just a football coach. He was a very popular and beloved individual by his players for his pleasant demeanour and seemingly ever-present smile.

But the Bombers also excelled under his guidance, leading the CFL in sacks (15) this season, including a league-high six by Odell Willis.

There's no doubt Winnipeg's organization is reeling following Harris's loss. However, the game will not only go on as scheduled, but the expectation is the Bombers will play with a higher purpose as the team will wear helmet stickers of Harris's initials while dedicating the contest to his memory.

The game will also be a difficult one for Lions head coach/GM Wally Buono. Harris also spent time on Buono's staff as a defensive line coach.

HIGH-FLYING ESKIMOS

The Edmonton Eskimos are the CFL's only remaining unbeaten team and put their 4-0 record on the line against the Toronto Argonauts on Friday night.

Quarterback Ricky Ray and receiver Fred Stamps are both off to outstanding starts. Ray leads the CFL in passing (1,231 yards) and has thrown eight TDs against just one interception. What's more, the Eskimos have done a solid job of protecting him having surrendered just four sacks.

Stamps is the CFL's leading receiver with 22 catches for 477 yards — a gaudy 21.7-yard average — with four touchdowns. Stamps had five receptions for 161 yards and two TDs in leading the Eskimos past the Calgary Stampeders 24-19 on Saturday.

Edmonton's offence leads the CFL in rushing (129.2 yards per game), passing (307.8 yards) and total yards (426 yards per game). That will present a huge challenge to a Toronto defence that's ranked seventh in yards allowed (397 yards per game) and sixth in points allowed (29 per game).

ERIJO KUALE

The Toronto Argonaut linebacker's devastating helmet-to-helmet hit on Winnipeg quarterback Buck Pierce last week earned him a disqualification from the game and an undisclosed fine from the CFL.

Kuale has said the attention he's received as a result of the blow won't affect how he plays football. And it won't take long to see if he does or not as the Argos take on the Edmonton Eskimos on Friday.

The six-foot-two, 229-pound Kuale is a versatile member of Toronto's defence. He's physical and rugged enough to play the run while possessing the quickness to drop back into pass coverage.

Also worth watching will be Dalton Bell starting at quarterback. Incumbent Cleo Lemon suffered a cracked tooth and exposed nerve after taking a hard shot from Bombers linebacker Joe Lobendahn in the first quarter and didn't return. Bell struggled under centre with two interceptions and two lost fumbles.

Lemon has been the subject of criticism for mediocre play since joining the Argos last season. But he had an incredible start against Winnipeg, completing five passes in leading Toronto to a touchdown on its first offensive possession.