- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 28, 2009

By Ryan O’Halloran | The Washington Times

Tuesday: Special teams

Who’s back: Kickoff returner Rock Cartwright, punt returner Antwaan Randle El, long snapper Ethan Albright and kicker Shaun Suisham.

Who’s new: Veteran Hunter Smith is slated to be the only punter in camp, and Dave Raymer was added to compete with Suisham. Young running backs Anthony Alridge and Dominique Dorsey are expected to get looks on returns.

2008 review: The Redskins ranked fourth in kickoff returns and coverage but 22nd and 27th in punt returns and coverage. Punters Durant Brooks and Ryan Plackemeier struggled, and the only touchdown return came from Santana Moss on a punt. Suisham’s 10 missed field goals were the most in the NFL.

Offseason review: The Redskins hope Smith can settle the punting situation. Replacements need to be found for Khary Campbell (unsigned) and James Thrash (released), the leading special teams tacklers last year.


1. Will Moss see more time on punt returns? It would be a surprise because coach Jim Zorn seemed so unwilling to put Moss back there last year. On six returns, Moss averaged 20.7 yards, and his 80-yard touchdown helped win the Detroit game. The obvious concern is the injury factor, and that will ultimately mean Moss will see limited time on special teams.

2. Who holds the edge at kicker? It’s pretty much a dead heat. If the Redskins were confident in Suisham, they wouldn’t have signed Raymer. The Redskins need more production from the 40- to 49-yard range, where Suisham was 11 of 16 last year. This competition will go down to the final preseason game.

3. How tough will it be to replace Campbell and Thrash? It’s a concern because both were veterans who could play multiple roles. The Redskins loaded up on linebackers (veteran Robert Thomas and second-day draft picks Robert Henson and Cody Glenn) who will fill Campbell’s role. The Redskins could keep an extra running back to take over some of Thrash’s duties.

Key statistic

21 Fair catches on punts last year for Randle El, most in the NFL.

Want more Redskins? Follow Ryan O’Halloran on Twitter at @ryanohalloran and read our Redskins 360 blog at www.washingtontimes.com/weblogs/redskins.

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