- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Quarterback isn’t the only position changing shape for the Washington Redskins this week.

The special teams took on a new look yesterday when return man Antonio Brown was released and former Maryland kicker Nick Novak was signed as insurance in case John Hall’s right quadriceps injury makes him unavailable for Monday night’s game at Dallas.

Brown’s release means running back Ladell Betts is the a full-time kickoff returner (along with James Thrash), and receiver Santana Moss is likely the new punt returner.

Moss was the New York Jets’ primary punt returner the last three seasons and has a 12-yard average in 88 career returns.

Brown hasn’t been nearly as productive during his NFL career.

Playing for current Redskins assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams and special teams coach Danny Smith in Buffalo in 2003, Brown returned 25 punts for a 4.4-yard average.

Brown signed with the Redskins on Nov. 3 and was inactive for six games before playing in the final three contests. He returned 10 punts for an 8.9-yard average.

During the preseason, Brown dropped four passes against Baltimore and averaged only 5.7 yards on 14 punt returns. In the opener against Chicago, he fumbled away the second-half kickoff, leading to the Bears’ only points.

After his fumble, Brown was replaced on the kickoff return team by Betts.

Novak was one of four kickers to audition yesterday afternoon at Redskin Park, joining Boise State’s Tyler Jones and former Virginia Tech players Carter Warley and Jimmy Kibble.

Novak, 24, made all three of his field goal attempts for Chicago this preseason but was released when the Bears elected to keep veteran Doug Brien. He was then claimed and released by Dallas.

Novak ended his Maryland career as the leading scorer in ACC history and tied for fifth in Division I-A history with 393 points. He was 80 of 107 on field goals and 153-for-159 on extra points.

Jones, Warley and Kibble were in NFL training camps this summer before being cut by Chicago, Cincinnati and Philadelphia, respectively.

The Redskins haven’t ruled out Hall, who kicked three field goals in Washington’s 9-7 win over Chicago, so it’s possible Novak could be made inactive against Dallas.

Jeff Chandler, who kicked in the Redskins’ final three games last season and was released last month, was thought to be a possible fill-in for Hall but he was not at Redskin Park yesterday.

Before the signing was announced, Novak said he felt good about his tryout.

“I’ve been getting quite a bit of opportunities and I feel I’m getting better with each chance,” he said. “It’s been a journey so far but this would be a great kick.”

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