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Brandon Banks Is Growing His Skillset

Posted by Matt Terl on October 10, 2010 – 6:21 pm

Brandon Banks may be the single most electrifying player the Redskins have had in years. Even in the relatively staid environment of the press box, there’s a noticeable buzz when he heads back to return a punt; today, when he added kickoff returns to his repertoire, those generated the same kind of excitement.

In fact, Banks is exciting enough that I was shocked by how unremarkable his final stats appeared: three punt returns for 47 yards, with a long of 30, and two kickoff returns for 33 yards. This completely fails to convey how much Banks appeared to tilt the field, and how valuable some of those yards were. (It also fails to convey the 62 yards he DIDN’T get on a kickoff return that was negated by a holding penalty, which may be part of what’s skewing my memories.)

And it wasn’t just the media and fans that noticed.
“Santana [Moss] told me I kinda grew up today,” Banks said, “but, you know, I feel good out there, and I feel like any time I touch the ball, I could go the distance.”

But that part of his skillset has been known at least since preseason. What was more surprising was how close Banks came to blocking field goals. He lined up on the end for Mason Crosby’s last three field goal attempts and used his ridiculous speed to come around the side and get within split seconds of the ball on two of those.

“I think he actually missed the two that I got close on,” Banks said, “so I feel like I kinda contributed a little bit. But, you know, I gotta get there and block the whole thing next time.” In the picture above, the ball has pretty much just left the frame; that’s how close he was.

Field goal block is not something that Banks has done a lot of, but neither is it something he’s completely unfamiliar with. “I did it a couple of times in college and a couple of times in high school and kinda got a couple,” Banks explained, “so [special teams coach Danny Smith] tried to use me, and, hey, whatever I can contribute, wherever he tells me to do it, that’s what I’m gonna do.”

The other role Banks took on was as informal cheerleader. There’s already electricity in the crowd as soon as he gets back there, and Banks was doing everything he could to enhance that: jumping around, waving his pink breast-cancer-awareness towel, flailing his arms. He laughed when I pointed this out.

“I just wanna spark, man,” Banks said. “I just wanna get the team going. I just wanna win. That’s all it is. You just wanna win.” Today, he managed all of those things.

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