Nick Williams elated by promotion from practice squad

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Nick Williams was standing outside in a T-shirt and shorts on Monday night when his agent called to tell him the Washington Redskins were looking to sign him off their practice squad to their 53-man active roster.

“It was probably 30 degrees out, and I couldn’t feel anything,” Williams said Wednesday. “I was pretty elated.”

The 5-foot-10, 187-pound wide receiver/return specialist was promoted to fill the spot vacated by running back Chris Thompson, who was placed on injured reserve because he’ll need to undergo surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder.

Williams said it’s too early in the week to determine whether he’ll be a part of the game plan for Sunday, when the Redskins visit the Philadelphia Eagles. He grew up in East Windsor, N.J., which is 45 minutes northeast of Philadelphia. Several friends and family members have already begun making plans to be at the game.

The opportunity seems to be there. The Redskins are 30th in punt return average and 31st in kickoff return average this season, cycling through Thompson and wide receiver Joshua Morgan on punt returns and Thompson, Morgan and tight end Niles Paul on kickoff returns.

“I’ve been doing kicks for a while, but I don’t really have a preference,” Williams said. “I think I can do both. I’ve been doing both – I did both for three years in college, so for me, I’m just happy to be back there and have the ball, so however I can get it doesn’t really matter to me.”

Undrafted out of UConn, where he set a school record with 2,045 kickoff return yards, Williams rarely worked as a return specialist during the preseason. He had just one punt return, which he took 29 yards in the preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but caught seven passes while lined up as a slot receiver.

“He’s been a guy that I’ve been lobbying for from Day 1,” said wide receiver Santana Moss. “Nick knows how I feel about him being here, and what he can do. You always want to see a guy have opportunities. He’s a guy that, that’s what he came out of college known for – punt return, kick return. If he gets that chance to go back there and showcase his talent, then I’m all for it.”

Growing up in New Jersey as a New York Jets fan, Williams said the opportunity to learn from Moss was one of the reasons why he chose to sign with the Redskins. He was struck one of the first days of training camp, when, while eating lunch, Moss sat down next to him.

“I’m super excited,” Williams said. “I’m thankful for the opportunity. When I was put on practice squad, my goal was to try to get called up as fast as possible, and that was the approach I took at practice. I was just super thankful and happy.”

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