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Redskins’ Brandon Banks fills team need for speed

Return specialist relies on fleet feet

Move over, Usain Bolt. The fastest man in the world just might be Washington Redskins wide receiver and return specialist Brandon Banks. Or at least, in America. Just ask him.

"I'm the fastest guy on the team, I'm the fastest guy in the league, I'm the fastest guy almost in America," Banks said with a laugh. "No, I'm just playing,"

Banks' time in the 40-yard dash has been clocked at around 4.25 seconds.

"Speed kills in this league, so that's kind of the slogan I go by," he said. "My speed gives me an opportunity to go by guys and make them miss."

At 5-foot-7 and around 155 pounds, Banks knows he's hardly built like a typical football player. But he's made a career with speed and quickness, and an ability to run around a wall of defenders that he's too small to run over.

"My role is to field kicks, get good field position and try to put six on the board, which is what I want to do every time I touch the ball," he said. "Hopefully, I can do that and put us in a position to win."

During last week's 22-21 win over Arizona, Banks made a 35-yard gain on a return when he eluded three blockers coming up the middle by literally running around them.

"I rely on my speed and just touch the blockers, guys like [fullback] Darrel Young and [linebacker] Lorenzo Alexander," Banks said. "They basically get me to the wall by coming in and making enough good blocks."

Banks knows all about running around, over, and through walls — he's done it all his life.

"I just use it as motivation," Banks said of the phrase he's heard since he was young: that he was too small to make it in the NFL.

"I like when people tell me I can't make it because it gives me a better attitude to go out there and do it just to prove them wrong," Banks said.

A scoring threat every time he touches the ball, his teammates - particularly those who block for him - think of him as their own special weapon and a player who helps make them look good.

"Brandon is very dynamic. Anytime he touches the ball, he has a chance to go the distance," said safety Reed Doughty. "As a guy who gets to block for him week in and week out, you just try to put a body on people and let him make you look good and make him move down the field.

"He's the type of guy that's special. Hopefully, we'll keep getting blocks and we can get him in he end zone."

Defensive end Kedric Golston said Banks is one of those players that makes you get up off the bench.

"If you really watch Brandon, anytime he touches the ball he can take it the distance," Golston said. "There are very few players in the league that, when it's their time to get the ball, everybody stands up to watch him. He has unique speed and quickness and he's a big-play guy.

"I think that he uses what people would consider a weakness, as far as his size, and uses it as his strength. He's hard to see, he's low to the ground and he's hard to tackle because he's a smaller target."

Golston believes Banks' ability to overcome his size says just as much about his character as it does his talent.

"For him to fight back the way he does after hearing all his life that he's too little to play football says something about the type of guy that he is," Golston said. "It doesn't matter what you say about him, he's going to get the job done."

Young thinks that in addition to his great speed, Banks also has great vision.

"You look at guys, yeah, we're all hustling and stuff, but he's setting up blocks," Young said. "I don't care what you say, sideline to sideline, there's a lot of guys who can run in the league, but you ain't gonna catch him."

Banks hasn't scored a touchdown yet in victories over the New York Giants and the Cardinals, but he said the momentum of a Monday game in Dallas against the hated Cowboys could be the night.

"Its a big-time rivalry that's been going on for years," Banks said. "Hopefully, we're on the winning side this coming Monday."

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