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."
August 14, 2010; 3:00 PM ET
Categories: Devin Thomas , Special teams
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