Your Friday morning open thread:
Hope you had a great holiday. But now it’s time to get back to what we do around here in early July: Talking about the Redskins’ upcoming season.
Today’s topic is the return game. Brandon Banks was relieved of his duties following the Week 13 win over the Giants. He was replaced by Richard Crawford (on punts) and Niles Paul (on kickoffs), and that’s how things stayed through the end of the season. It’s also possible that’s how the 2013 campaign will begin.
Crawford certainly showed flashes. The 22-year-old broke off a game-changing 64-yard punt return in overtime against Baltimore. He also averaged 19.5 yards on eight returns. Small sample size, of course.
During the portion of OTAs that were open the media, Crawford appeared to be the No. 1 returner. Undrafted college free agents Skye Dawson (TCU) and Nick Williams (UConn) also fielded punts, while veterans Santana Moss and DeAngelo Hall each handled a few.
On kickoffs, Paul also showed potential in December and January. He averaged 24.9 yards per return in the final five games of the regular season, including a 48 yarder and a 39 yarder. It’s not completely clear who might compete with the 23-year-old Paul, but Williams did return 79 kicks for the Huskies (for an average of 25.9 yards).
Two more things to consider: Going with Crawford and Paul would maximize precious roster space because both are likely to make the team anyway. Also, new special teams coach Keith Burns knows a thing or two about creating lanes for his returners. In his six seasons working with Denver’s return teams, the Broncos accounted for 10 touchdowns (six punts, four kickoffs).