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Pooka Williams: Return Specialist?

A chance for the talented Williams to find his way on to the field.

Cincinnati Bengals v Washington Football Team Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Last off-season, many wondered what role Pooka Williams would play for the Cincinnati Bengals. As the season progressed, no much time on the field materialized for Williams, and he made the transition from running back to receiver. Williams survived on the roster, but he didn’t find significant snaps in an offense loaded with talent.

Williams possesses athleticism that you can’t miss on tape, showing that he has tools to make big plays, particularly in space. As you well know, the top three wide receivers on the roster are set and will see the vast majority of the targets. The running back room is another position group with the bulk of the snaps accounted for. Joe Mixon will, again, be the primary back, Samaje Perine saw significant carries last season and many expect Chris Evans to have a larger role in his second season.

With such crowded skill position groups, how can the Bengals get Williams and his skillset on the field to make an impact? It seems like Darrin Simmons may have an idea.

“Pooka is somebody that is going to be an intriguing guy to see how his development has gone from year one to year two,” Simmons said.

In a season where the team didn’t show many flaws, the return game did leave something to be desired. Recently departed cornerback Darius Phillips struggled with punt returns last season. Seemingly ending his tenure was the December loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Phillips simply couldn’t reel balls in, leading to costly turnovers. As a result, we saw more Trent Taylor in that role.

The kickoff return unit got some question marks when Brandon Wilson’s season was cut short due to injury. The unit didn’t have the struggles we saw in the punt return game, but a shuffle of returners led to less explosive returns.

It seems if Williams will see the field this season, it will be in the return game. As he develops, this should be an interesting battle to follow as workouts ramp up and training camp approaches.