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Alexander Scouts Tampa Bay Special Teams

In this week's installment of Special Teams Saturday with Lorenzo Alexander, we'll take a look at Tampa Bay Pro Bowl returner Clifton Smith and examine the long-term potential of wide receiver Devin Thomas as a returner.

At 0-3, the Buccaneers, obviously, are off to an awful start. In last week's 24-0 loss to the New York Giants at Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Bay had 86 total net yards. The Giants' special teams did an excellent job containing Smith, who in only his second season is among the game's best return men.

As a rookie, Smith made the Pro Bowl after entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent from Fresno State. For the first seven weeks of the 2008 season, Smith was on the Buccaneers' practice squad. After being promoted to the 53-man roster, Smith quickly emerged as a force in the return game.

In his second game, Smith returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. A couple of weeks later, he also returned a punt 70 yards for a touchdown.

Smith accumulated 992 yards on kickoff returns in only nine games and had a 27.6-yard average. He had three returns of 40 or more yards and also was consistently productive on punt returns with a 14.1-yard average and two returns of at least 40 yards.

"He's a very hard tackle," Alexander said. "He's a small guy [Smith is listed at 5 feet 9, 190 pounds], so he's very quick and agile. He can hit the seams, but he also can break some tackles. We have to focus on getting him down."

Against the Giants, Smith averaged 28 yards on two kickoff returns and 13 yards on three punt returns. Smith was unable to provide a spark for the Buccaneers' offense, but the Redskins are well aware of his big-play potential, Alexander said.

"It's just really about executing your assignments and doing what you've been told to do," he said. Special teams coordinator Danny Smith "does a great job getting us prepared for what we'll see out there, so we just have to execute."

The Redskins (1-2) were effective again on teams in their Week 3 game against the Detroit Lions, but the Lions still ended their losing streak at 19 with a 19-14 victory at Ford Field. Now it's the Buccaneer who are looking to get something started against the Redskins.

"I think they're having a lot of the same issues we're having," Alexander said. "They've been driving the ball, but they haven't been able to score a lot of points. The first game they had [450] yards of offense [against the Dallas Cowboys], then [353] yards of offense [against the Buffalo Bills].

"In this last game, they didn't do so well. But they're moving the ball. And on teams, the biggest thing that we see on film is that they can run. They're also real physical, so we've got to be able to get on our guys. They're going to come down and hit that wedge and really try to trap us on the kickoff and really try to out-physical us."

Although teams co-captain Rock Cartwright still is the Redskins' primary kickoff returner, it appears the coaches have plans for Thomas to do more on teams. Thomas, who has one return for 21 yards this season, has the type of speed to become productive in the role. As a senior at Michigan State, Thomas ranked 11 th in the nation with a 29.1-yard average.

"One of the biggest things is, I've really seen him grow up over this past year," Alexander said of Thomas. "He's matured, and I think he understands the work ethic he needs to put into practice.

"The first week, he wasn't on special teams. But these last couple of weeks, he's been out there really practicing. He's been practicing hard and focusing."

Other Important Stuff to Know for Tomorrow

If you're going to the game, the Capital Weather Gang says the day will be beautiful. The traffic, no doubt, will be more like Elephant Man and there will be a bit of a complication that could lead to the first real traffic shabingus of the season: the Army Ten-Miler. Dr. Gridlock (not his real name) has the deets.

TwitterWorld

By now, you know to follow @RedskinsInsider, @HyperSkins, @JReidPost, @RickMaese, @BarrySvrluga, @dcsportsbog, @TraceeHamilton, and @MikeWiseguy.

This week, though, we're adding a new Twitter stream for those at FedEx. To appear on the page on our site, tweets have to include #Redskins and #wp. If you put the section number after #wp, it will show up in that section (ie, #wp 345").

The OT

Paul Tenorio will be chatting live (let's hope he's live...) after the game. Shoot him Send him some questions.

By Jason Reid  |  October 3, 2009; 9:50 AM ET
Categories:  Jason Reid  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Haynesworth Could Have Been a Buccaneer
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Comments

Panties

Posted by: jm220 | October 3, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

There's no question that we could use a spark on teams. I really don't understand the reluctance to use the younger guys. We had Aldridge active last week, and he never played. Mitchell is obviously going to be something special-hasn't played a regular season game. The second year receivers are criticized as ineffective, but are rarely thrown to.

Let Thomas gets some reps as as kickoff man. ARE is still Mister Fair Catch. Let Moss have a go.

Posted by: bostskin | October 3, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Follow @letsbuytheskins on twitter to get control of our team. Read Washington Post article today on how the Caps learned to rebuild to be a contender, something that current Redskins ownership doesn't know how to do. Spread the word...

Posted by: letsbuytheskins | October 3, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Follow @letsbuytheskins on twitter to get control of our team. Read Washington Post article today on how the Caps learned to rebuild to be a contender, something that current Redskins ownership doesn't know how to do. Spread the word...

Posted by: letsbuytheskins | October 3, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Yeah start buy being bad enough long enough that you can draft high enough to get the best player in the league..

Oh and the Redskins(nfl)don't have a farm system,so can we compare apples and apples?

Posted by: jumbo5383 | October 3, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

U' beddar' rep' yo' city'. There used to a rap song out some years back about representing your city.

In listening to the Fans/Pundits thats where as the owner of this Team Dan Synder has missed the boat.

Dan Synder needs to Rep His Team. Championships start at the top and Dan Synder is not leading this Team. There is too many questions about this Team and the public is left to ponder the answers.

Danny Synder, you need to Rep Your Team. Why does Portis continue to start when he is hurt?

Why isn't fresh players integrated into the Team as a matter of plan instead of by default when some unperforming vet gets hurt?

Why are we comprising our Team of the same non-productive players year after year?

Did anybody every explain to you how gap defense is flawed, if the offense blocks and you just stand there in your gap?

Did anybody ever explaing to you that it is a good thing to flush the QB from the pocket so you can tackle his butt?

When it comes to finding anything out the Redskins, why is it we never hear from you?

You have let the Fan/Pundits punk you and you need to Rep Your Team.

DANNY SYNDER UP AND REP YOUR TEAM!!!

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | October 3, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

A SECRET MESSAGE FOR DANNY SNYDER.

IN SPITE OF WHAT THE FANS/PUNDITS/CRITICS HAVE SAID, YOU CANNOT RUN THIS TEAM AND WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP PULLING STRINGS FROM THE BACKGROUND.

IN THIS CITY A CHAMPIONSHIP WILL ONLY COME WHEN THE OWNER IS STANDING UP FRONT AND CENTER AND LEADING THE TEAM.

RESEARCH IT, CHECK IT OUT, CHAMPIONSHIP OWNERS HAVE THERE FINGERPRINTS ALL OVER THE ORGANIZATION AND IT IS KNOWN UP FRONT.

DANNY SNYDER YOU OWN THIS TEAM, BUT THE PUBLIC DOES NOT KNOW WHERE YOU STAND ANYMORE ON ANYTHING.

EXAMPLE: IT IS LIKE YOU HAVE A ROLLS ROYCE IN YOUR DRIVEWAY, BUT YOU HAVE NEVER BEEN SEEN DRIVING IT DOWN THE STREET.

DANNY SYNDER, YOU ARE MAKING A HUGE MISTAKE BY NOT STANDING UP AND REPPING YOUR TEAM. STOP LISTENING TO THESE FOLKS. THIS IS YOUR BABY. OWN IT.

JACK KENT COOKE LET GIBBS AND BEATHERD RUN THE TEAM, BUT IT WAS NO QUESTION THAT HE WAS ULTIMATELY IN CHARGE AND THE PUBLIC KNEW WHERE HE STOOD.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | October 3, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: Gweez | October 3, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

i've got confidence in my guys...i'm starting campbell again in fantasy xP

Posted by: BMACattack | October 3, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

probably-the-worst-nfl-hire-of-all-time

Well, we have the Spurrier mediocracy to beat.
Pollin/Czaban had this guy on this week. Hard to argue with him based on the results so far.

Posted by: daggar | October 3, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

probably-the-worst-nfl-hire-of-all-time

Well, we have the Spurrier mediocracy to beat.
Pollin/Czaban had this guy on this week. Hard to argue with him based on the results so far.

Posted by: daggar | October 3, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Worse than Rich Kotite (slightly). Worse than Ron Meyer. Worse than Joe Bugel. Worse than … OK, tied with Fred O’Connor and Pete McCulley, but that doesn’t really count because the 49ers weren’t really trying back then.

Interesting comment on Bugel.

Posted by: scampbell1975 | October 3, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

EXAMPLE: IT IS LIKE YOU HAVE A ROLLS ROYCE IN YOUR DRIVEWAY, BUT YOU HAVE NEVER BEEN SEEN DRIVING IT DOWN THE STREET.
Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | October 3, 2009 11:37 AM

See the dents in the fender? See how someone has neglected to change the oil and the air filter but instead has spent their time and money on a rear spoiler and tacky rims? The ride is as broken down as your simile. And it's obvious who's been doing the driving.

Posted by: mack1 | October 3, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Great post Gweez i remember when they hired Spurrier and i called into the The Sports Reporters(Czaban/Pollin) and told both of them that was possibly the worst hire in the history of the franchise(okay Bill McPeak) and was litterally run off the air and now Zorn, he is ruining Jason Campbell and the team as a whole has no confidence in him or his game plan you need only to remember the Fox camera's scanning the Redskin bench during the waning moments of that team deflating loss to the Lion's and the look in some of those player's faces.

Posted by: dargregmag | October 3, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

That article was on about 8-9 blogs back, where you been.

And darnit', can't believe I had so many typos in Rep Yo City.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | October 3, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Gweez | October 3, 2009 11:39 AM

Saw that in Bill Simmons column. Took the time to read it, unfortunately. It's a pretty terrible piece of writing from someone who is an obvious homer. Admittedly, he spoke with Zorn once and felt confident to write that article.
It's comical that someone could make a claim and create a headline like that before the guy ever coached a game.

He is referring to the HIRE, I understand. But to compare him to some of the names on that list before he coached a game is irresponsible.

Posted by: saltine182 | October 3, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

message to redskins players: we like you and want you to win

message to zorn: we don't like you because you haven't put these players in a position to win

message to dannny and vinny: we don't like you because you have given us a decade of poor product and always sell us false hope

Posted by: mohawk44 | October 3, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

saltine,

I agree with what you are saying but it's proven pretty sage insight now. No one ever talked of Zorn, prior to Danny plucking him out of obscurity and maybe there was a reason.

As usual Danny tends to follow what worked for others. He say "young" guys have success in the league. What he didn't realize is that A. Zorn isn't young. B. They weren't picked because they were young. They were picked because they were showing some ingenuity. Something Zorn completely lacks.

Posted by: Gweez | October 3, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Snyder will not change until he starts losing profit. He's actually a very smart owner. He knows we will continue to go to these games and spend money and buy merchandise. He builds off season momentum by free agent signings. This creates a "Marketing" buzz. Marketing is where he's made his Billion. Face it, there is only one way to stop this, but none of us are willing to do it!!!!

CLEGG

Posted by: michael_b_clegg | October 3, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Snyder will not change until he starts losing profit.

Posted by: michael_b_clegg | October 3, 2009 1:44 PM

He's already losing profit, and he knows it. His revenues are much lower than they would be if he were a proven winner with playoff appearances and guys in the Pro Bowl.

I don't think it's about the profits. He wants to be a winner, but he wants it like in the Sinatra song: "I did it my way." He wants both to be champion and to be seen as the architect of the championship.

I don't think it will happen, and I don't know if he'll stop trying.

Posted by: talent_evaluator | October 3, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

sellers, even if the frontside is open, mason should run into your back and fall down? i've seen a few big plays develop from cutting back on overpersuit of a predictable play.

Posted by: mohawk44 | October 3, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

This is what will happen. Portis is going to play and Aldridge is going to be inactive because if Portis sits and the team loses, Portis will throw Zorn under the bus and say he wanted to play. This is all fluff. Is CP hurt? Yes. Is he hurt so bad that he shouldn't play? Yes. Is he hurt so bad that he won't play? No. Will he tell Zorn his is playing and the coach will do whatever the player wants? Yes. Will this repeat over and over again? Yes, until they carry Portis off the field, and then Zorn will take the heat for not sitting him.

Posted by: dbrine1261 | October 3, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Also Portis playing will keep the playmaker Marko Mitchell from being active this week. Alaso after Portis gets dinged up and has to come out of the game, they will try to give the ball to Sellers, who will fumble inside the red zone. betts will take the majority of the reps with a little Rock mixed in on passing downs and neither Mason or Aldridge will get a chance if they do happen to both be active.

Posted by: dbrine1261 | October 3, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Why do I think all this? Because Zorn Blows.

Posted by: dbrine1261 | October 3, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

If your OL is as shaky as ours, you better have a top rated defense.

Doesn't matter if it's Zorn and JC at the helm or Tomln and Big Ben.

Last in the NFL stopping 3rd down conversions SUCKS!

Posted by: Alan4 | October 3, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

You mean if you dump 4 out of your last 5 first rounders and a quarter billion dollars into a defense you might expect to get the ball more than 9 times a game?

Posted by: PAskinsfan17 | October 3, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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