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Special teams produces mixed results

While rookie receiver Brandon Banks was the highlight of the night for the Redskins special teams unit, there were plenty of other areas to evaluate - including kick return and kick coverage and a stellar night from punter Josh Bidwell.

While Banks impressed on punt returns, racking up 97 yards on four returns including a 77-yard touchdown, starting kick returner Devin Thomas did not have as strong of a night.

On the game's opening kickoff, Thomas misjudged the ball and fumbled when he had to reach up over his head to try to field the kick. Thomas again had to reach up to catch a kick following Buffalo's first-quarter field goal and did not return the kick, taking a knee for a touchback.

"Man, that ball, it's just a wacky ball," Thomas said. "It's hard to judge. Usually the ball comes spinning over the top and it's coming sideways and I was like 'Man, it's hard to judge.' I just tried to make my best play on it and I couldn't really judge it."

Rookie receiver Terrence Austin replaced both Thomas and Banks as the returner and did well. Austin averaged eight yards on three punt returns and 24.3 yards on two kickoff returns, with a long of 26 yards.

The Redskins struggled some on kickoff return coverage, allowing an average of 19.1 yards per return, a number helped by two touchbacks. Returners Chad Simpson and Donald Jones averaged 29.5 and 24.5, respectively, on two returns each, and Chad Jackson took his one return back for 26 yards.

Washington was better on punt coverage, limiting the Bills to just one return - though Naaman Roosevelt took that back for 23 yards.

Punter Josh Bidwell, however, said he felt the team's coverage was strong and that big returns can be a result of the mix-and-match nature of preseason.

"Teachable moments, absolutely," Bidwell said. "We'll never play a perfect game which is fortunate and unfortunate in this business, but we have a lot of coachable material out there. All in all I thought we did a great job. The big [punt] return was kind of a patchwork group of guys out there working hard, trying to make a play, but as far as our coverage early on with some of the starting guys and maybe one or two back-ups in there on all teams I thought we played solid. We understood what we were supposed to do and we went out and did it."

Bidwell turned in a strong performance, averaging 42.7 yards on six punts - including two consecutive punts that he landed inside the 10-yard line. Bidwell dropped one punt that was downed by Anthony Armstrong on the six. Armstrong, however, had gone out of bounds and was flagged and Bidwell was forced to kick again.

This time, however, he dropped his punt inside the five and corner Ramzee Robinson saved it from the end zone and flipped it to Armstrong at the two-yard line.

"When they moved me back I felt like that was an easier kick for me," Bidwell said. "The shorter ones they're still pretty easy but it's harder to control the pace. I think they moved me back to about the 43 or 44 and that's a full kick for me with that end over kick that most of us are hitting now so I was comfortable with that. I knew I was going to hit a high ball, you never know if the bounce is going to go your way but with this kick eight times out of 10 it does. I knew it was going to be a full kick land it somewhere inside the five and hopefully the guys are going to be down there if they didn't catch it first."

By Paul Tenorio  |  August 14, 2010; 3:00 PM ET
Categories:  Devin Thomas , Special teams  
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Next: With little time to prepare, Beck did what he could against Bills


Banks just 2 fast

Posted by: patljr7 | August 14, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Been waiting to see Banks return punts. I knew he'd bring at least one back all the way in preseason, and he didn't waste anytime filling that check box.

I think Gano looks solid, and am looking forward to some long FG's as well.

I think DT and T Austin are a toss up, so might as well have Austin return and let DT focus on becoming a productive starting WR.

Posted by: edvar | August 14, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Stay medium, folks.

Just sayin'

Posted by: gimmesummoe | August 14, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

"Man, that ball, it's just a wacky ball," Thomas said. "It's hard to judge. Usually the ball comes spinning over the top and it's coming sideways..."

That's why punts and kicks are caught by guys who judge when it's coming down, then use both hands to pull it into their chests.

Spiraling passes are what you catch with your hands, you twit.

Posted by: gimmesummoe | August 14, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

What's up with K. Williams? Don't know much about him and couldn't watch the game last night. He speed, power or combo of both? I wonder if he has a legit shot at this team.....

Posted by: crzyvgs

Short answer, yes. He looks like the "next guy" Shanahan has unearthed with a low round pick at running back. He's good size and a classic one-cut runner who thrives in Mike's zone scheme.

That said--he has to beat out either Torraine or Johnson, since I doubt the 'skins will keep more than three RBs. Having showcased him successfully, he is in danger of being lost if put on practice squad, but, barring an RB injury ahead of him, that's most likely.

Still, I liked him, and Shanahan likes low-round one cut runners.

Posted by: TheCork | August 14, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Agree that DT should focus on WR and have Banks return kickoffs, too , like he did for KSU..Mistah Magoo, Blue Bayou..

Posted by: frak | August 14, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

"Man, that ball, it's just a wacky ball," Thomas said. "It's hard to judge. Usually the ball comes spinning over the top and it's coming sideways and I was like 'Man, it's hard to judge.' I just tried to make my best play on it and I couldn't really judge it."--DEVIN THOMAS

That's right, Devin, it's the ball's fault How could you know Buffalo would secretly fill it with Helium?

You want to impress coach? Arrange to be out an hour before practice, with a kicker you bribe or a kickoff machin (is there such a beast?) Practicing judging the ball.

Fortunately for Thomas, he looked pretty decent at WR.

Posted by: TheCork | August 14, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Not that I haven't said it enough, but DT11 needs to spend 100% of his time becoming a WR. The guy needs to focus and the coaches need to help him with that. Anytime spent on KR is a diversion that isn't good for anyone.

Posted by: zcezcest1 | August 14, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: edvar | August 14, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Devin Thomas is playing himself off the team.
His leverage would be as a punt returner...we saw how that went. In his third year..being behind a guy who is 37 years, or should be, embarrassing..even if it is just pre-season. Kelly, has done nothing in his time here..but be hurt. He was hurt in college as well..way to go Vinnie!
Banks and Austin have speed to burn..and if you look at great returners..they have a lot of good hands, and knack for avoiding the first rush.. (instinct).

Posted by: blazerguy234 | August 15, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

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