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Danny Smith Considers Punting Prospects, Including Larry Michael

Posted by Matt Terl on April 7, 2011 – 11:14 am

Take a look at the picture above. You can tell from the gold pants that it’s from last season, and it’s pretty clearly someone punting the ball … but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if you couldn’t tell me the guy’s name. Four guys punted the ball last year (although one of them was kicker Graham Gano being pressed into emergency duty) and none of them exactly stood out.

Josh Bidwell punted in three games, with a net average of 37.7 yards and 3 punts inside the 20. Gano, in his one fill-in game, punted four times and saw one of them blocked. Hunter Smith punted in nine games in relief of Bidwell, and finished with a net average of 33.7 yards, one return TD against, and 17 punts pinned inside the 20. And Sam Paulescu — he’s the one pictured above, in case you really were unsure — punted 17 times in the last three games of the season for a net average of 33.1 yards.

Nothing catastrophic, but certainly no punter that serves as field-flipping weapon, either. So when special teams coach Danny Smith appeared on Redskins Nation, Larry Michael asked the obvious question: who would be punting for the Redskins next season?

Smith’s answer certainly seems to indicate that the team is casting a pretty wide net. “If you could punt, Larry, we’ll give you an opportunity,” Smith said. “I mean, we’ll take anybody in this building to go out there. We’ve had seven punters in two years. That’s unbelievable. We had three punters in ’09, we used four punters this year if you count the game with Graham Gano in the St. Louis game. I mean, we had four punters punt in the National Football League for the Washington Redskins this year. That’s unheard of.”

It’s a theme that Smith would return to again later, in a way that doesn’t exactly serve as a ringing endorsement for Paulescu. “We’ll take anybody at this point,” Smith said, “because I think anything would be an improvement, to be quite honest with you. I really do. But you’d like to get a veteran who has some games under his belt.”

Mildly amusing answers aside, Smith is keenly aware of exactly how important this issue is.

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