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Undrafted Rookie Nick Williams Trying To Find A Fit

The undrafted return specialist and receiver is hoping he’ll have done enough in a variety of roles to stick with the Redskins in some capacity after the preseason is over.


RICHMOND – Nick Williams found it kind of amusing that his first play in an NFL game wasn’t as a return specialist but instead as a receiver.


“It kind of threw me off a little bit,” Williams said. “But it was cool. It was a good experience.”

An undrafted rookie from UConn, Williams played 15 snaps on offense, and none on special teams, in the Redskins’ 22-21 victory over the Titans in the preseason opener on Thursday. Targeted four times, he caught two passes for six yards while playing with quarterback Pat White and the third team.

The Redskins originally signed the 5-foot-10, 184-pound Williams to audition as a kickoff and punt returner while also working his way in as a slot receiver. Williams accepted Washington’s offer over others, he said, because the Redskins were willing to give him more of an opportunity on offense.

Through three weeks of training camp, Williams and fellow undrafted rookie Skye Dawson have joined cornerback Richard Crawford and receiver Santana Moss in the rotation at punt returner. The two have also joined Crawford, tight end Niles Paul, running back Chris Thompson, receiver Aldrick Robinson and cornerback Josh Wilson in returning kickoffs.

Still, it may be difficult for Williams to earn a spot on the 53-man roster. The Redskins have five receivers who are a lock to make the roster – Moss, Robinson, Pierre Garçon, Joshua Morgan and Leonard Hankerson – and five others are vying for what could likely be just one spot. Williams could also stick on the Redskins’ eight-man practice squad.

That’s why playing on offense is important to Williams. If he can establish himself as a viable backup to Moss in the slot, he’ll have a greater chance of sticking around past the final preseason game on Aug. 29.

It’s not impossible. Some of the more consistent slot receivers in the league, including the Broncos’ Wes Welker, also went undrafted and carved out roles on special teams before earning greater responsibility.

“It’s already been played out in front of me and it’s been proven that guys with similar skill sets as mine can be successful in this league,” Williams said. “I’m hoping to follow suit.”