4 downs with Derrick Dockery
Two days after fielding a pair of punts inside the Redskins’ 10-yard line – a no-no in the NFL – rookie returner Chris Thompson said he’ll learn from his mistakes.
In the first quarter of Monday's loss to the Eagles, Thompson drifted back and called for a fair catch at the three-yard line. He immediately realized his error and smacked the ball out of frustration before trotting to the sideline.
“I was upset,” said Thompson, who hasn't been a full-time punt returner since high school. “At the moment I didn’t know it was such a bad idea, that I stepped back so far. I shouldn’t have done that. I just have to continue to work at it. It shouldn't have happened. It felt like I was running lateral, but I was losing ground.”
He added: “I should have just let it go. But it was way too late to get out of the way of the ball.”
On Thompson’s next opportunity, he fielded the ball at the six-yard line and got tackled at the 11.
The general rule of thumb for punt returners is to stand on the 10-yard line and not touch anything kicked over their head in the hopes of the ball rolling into the end zone for a touchback.
Coach Mike Shanahan said he understands that Thompson is learning on the fly.
“We don’t work very often on catching the ball at the 3-yard line,” Shanahan said sarcastically. “A young guy, sometimes, you line up on the 10 and you don’t realize you drift back there. ”
“I was pleased, though,” Shanahan added. “He had the guts to go back there and at least catch it with a lot of people around him. Even though that’s a negative, it’s a positive that his concentration level is there and we’re just going to have to put him through more reps so he doesn’t catch the ball inside the 10-yard line. That one he caught on the 5-yard line, especially with a fair catch, that’s a mistake. …I was pleased with his effort, but those decisions are going to have to improve.”
Thompson returned a punt in the third quarter, but the play was negated by a penalty. On the re-punt moment later, Santana Moss returned the ball after Thompson went to the sideline to have his ankle taped.
“I aggravated it a little bit, so that’s why [Santana] went back there,” said Thompson, who said the injury is not serious.