The Redskins have a roster spot to fill.
On Friday, Mike Shanahan announced that rookie running back Chris Thompson will have surgery to repair his labrum and is headed to injured reserve. That means that they will sign somebody and it is likely that they will do so before today’s 11:15 practice.
Who will they sign? If they decide to stay “in house” and move someone up from the practice squad, wide receiver Nick Williams is a logical candidate.
The main reason to bring up Williams, a rookie free agent out of Connecticut, is his ability in the punt return game. In 2012 he averaged 12.0 yards per punt return for the Huskies, taking two of them back for touchdowns. In one return during the preseason this year he took a punt back 29 yards.
Josh Morgan has been returning punts for the Redskins in recent games but other than one 35-yard return against the Broncos he has not done much. Even with that long return he’s averaging 7.4 yards per return. On Friday, Mike Shanahan was asked if Morgan is the solution at punt returner or if the team was looking for someone like Richard Crawford, who provided a big spark returning punts at the end of last year.
Here is Shanahan’s answer in its entirety. It sure doesn’t sound like he’s content with Morgan as the punt returner.
“Well, you’re always looking for that Richard Crawford. It all depends. We gave [former wide receiver Brandon] Banks a lot of opportunities and through 12 weeks, we were dead last in the National Football League in returns and we did pretty good the year before. We were going to wait with him – wait, be a little bit patient with him, give him a lot of opportunities and it never did work out. Richard was a guy that we felt, when he got that opportunity, would catch the ball and get upfield very quickly. But we really didn’t know until he played in games how much he would turn up and how much he’d make people miss. He averaged over 19 yards a punt return in the last five games, which would have led the National Football League. So we went from 32nd to 17th very quickly because of one guy, the returner. We’ll experiment with returners throughout the year until we get the guy that we want. One of the things that you have to do as a returner is make good decisions. You’ve got to know when to fair catch it, when to take your opportunities to turn it up the field.”
Will they look to Williams for the answer? We should find out soon.