About Brandon Banks's size
Redskins punt returner Brandon Banks, who burst on the season with a return for a touchdown in Washington's first preseason game and did it again last week with a 53-yarder, is listed as 5-foot-8 and 155 pounds. That makes him the lightest player in the NFL by a full 11 pounds. And thus, I present 11 items about Banks's size.
Just about every Redskins player I asked could remember the first time he saw Banks.
"I couldn't figure out who the little kid was on the team, to be honest with you," Adam Carriker said. "I see this little guy out there, I don't know what he plays, I don't know what he does, I don't know who he is, I just see this little guy out there. I'm being serious."
"I actually saw him while I was watching the combine, and it had his weight up there," Anthony Armstrong told me. "I think it said 149 pounds. I was like, that must be a typo. Can't be no way that there's somebody at the combine who's 149. They tell me I'm too small, and this guy's 149 pounds?"
"I got on the bus at the hotel and I'm like, this guy has to be really fast," Vonnie Holliday said.
"I mean, he's definitely smaller than even some of the small guys that make it in this league," punter Josh Bidwell said.
This is something Banks has dealt with his entire career.
"Ever since I played mighty mite football," he told me. "Every level, every year, the beginning of every season I hear it: how do you play football, you're too small, you can't play this sport. Actually, when I went and tried out for my high school team, the coach looked at me like, 'Are you really trying out for football or are you trying out for water boy?' "
He said he weighed about 85 pounds going into his freshman year, didn't hit triple digits until he was a high school junior, and only weighed 125 pounds when he entered college.
Only two players in the NFL weigh less than 170 pounds: Banks, and the 5-foot-5, 166-pound Texans rookie Trindon Holliday. On the Redskins, Banks is 25 pounds below the listed weight of the next smallest guy, Roydell Williams.
Oh yeah, there are also 282 NFL players who weigh at least 310 pounds, meaning 282 guys who weigh at least twice as much as Banks.
In addition to being a star at track and football, Banks also played basketball. And yes, he can dunk.
"I actually did one in a high school game," he said. "I caught a steal, fast break, just dunked out of nowhere. The kids on the team knew I could dunk, and the coach knew, but nobody else knew, so everybody ran out on the court, everybody went crazy. Kind of shut the game down."
Impressing the coach
Like everyone else, Mike Shanahan was initially struck by Banks's size. He also suggested that the rookie doesn't actually weigh 155.
"When I saw his weight at 148 pounds, I said, well, this can't work," the coach said. "When you watch him play out here as a punt returner, as a kickoff returner, you're just kind of amazed at how a guy can take those type of licks at 148 pounds. But last week he gained twp pounds, so he's 150 now. So he's feeling much improved, his strength is better."
These were jokes, obviously. Then Shanahan turned serious.
"He's got speed, he can run, and any time you have that type of speed, that separates you."
Ah yes. That speed. It helped him become a nationally ranked sprinter in high school, and to record the fifth-fastest 40-yard dash time among wide receivers at last year's NFL combine. (A 4.43.)
"Blinding," Bidwell said. "As fast as anybody in the league right now."
"Unbelievably quick and fast," Artis Hicks said.
"Definitely one of the top-tier fast guys in the NFL," Phillip Buchanan said.
"Super quick," Armstrong agreed. "You could play him absolutely perfect, and he'd still get outside of you."
"I wanted to have one guy on the team that was shorter than me," Shanahan cracked.
And how to describe Banks?
"Teenie," suggested Casey Rabach.
"Diminutive," said Armstrong.
"Smurfish," Hicks said. "He's a good dude, a good quiet humble young man, and I really like Banks a lot, but he's definitely Smurfish in size. You know, I can tell that he probably don't like walking up on tall guys, because his head will stop at our waist or crotch, so he kind of keeps his distance when he talks to us."
"I was trying to explain it to my daughter," Vonnie Holliday said. "She's 11, and she's like what does he play? How tall is he? I told her he's probably your height, or maybe you're taller than him."
Holliday's daughter is 5-foot-6 or 5-foot-7. He might be right.
Frustration and Pride
"I always asked myself, why I got to be so small?" Banks told me. "You can look at it as pride. It feel good, but then again it don't. It feels good to be in a category of your own, but you don't want to be the lightest person, you don't want people to doubt you and things like that. I'm straight, though. It helps a lot, I'm a lot shiftier than guys, I can get away from guys and they can't get a direct hit on me."
"Hell of a football player," Rabach said.
"He can make plays," Carriker said.
"You look at them as little, but them guys you can't touch," Carlos Rogers said.
"If he gets a chance to get in the open, I don't think anybody can catch him," Bidwell said.
"He really really makes it a lot easier for us on offense when we don't have to try to go 80 yards to score," Hicks said. "It takes a lot of pressure off us, and it puts a lot of pressure on defenses."
"We all come in different shapes and sizes," Rabach said.
"He's dangerous," Armstrong said. "Can't take him lightly."
Pun intended. I think.
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