- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Washington Times’ Ryan O’Halloran has examined one Redskins position group each day since last Sunday. The series concludes today with the special teams.

SPECIAL TEAMS

WHO’S BACK: Kicker John Hall, punter Derrick Frost, long snapper Ethan Albright and kick returner Ladell Betts.

Who’s new: Receiver Antwaan Randle El is expected to return punts and kickoffs, and Tyler Jones and David Lonie have been signed to compete with Hall and Frost, respectively.

Overview: Last season represented giant strides in the coverage areas. The Redskins ranked second in punt coverage (4.7 yards a return) and third in kickoff coverage (20.9 yards) and didn’t allow a touchdown. This preseason is all about improving the return game and finding out if Hall can stay healthy and if Frost has become more consistent. A solid core of players — Rock Cartwright, Mike Sellers, Khary Campbell and Marcus Washington to name just four — returns to help out.

Key issues: 1. Who will win the kicker and punter jobs? Hall hopes offseason surgery will make him durable again. He has played 13 games the last two seasons. Frost averaged 40.4 yards a punt and the Redskins’ gross punt average ranked 29th. But Jones and Lonie have zero NFL experience so the jobs are for Hall and Frost to lose.

2. How much of an impact will Randle El make? The Redskins’ kickoff (23.2) and punt (6.0) return units ranked 11th and 28th. Randle El has averaged 9.5 yards a punt return and 23.3 yards a kickoff return in his career, so he’s an upgrade. He and Betts form a formidable duo on kickoffs.

cGot a question about the Redskins? Starting in training camp, the Times will be running a weekly Redskins Mailbag. Send questions to Ryan O’Halloran at [email protected]

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