Going into training camp, it was a little murky as to who would serve as specialists in the special teams. Long snapper Nick Sundberg seemed like a lock, but punter, kicker, and the return jobs were up in the air.
This last week has provided ample clarity to the various battles.
Kick/Punt Returner: I wouldn’t always make this one category, but the same man was dominant in both facets last night. Brandon Banks had two returns last night for a total of 77 yards. That made him a bigger offensive weapon in the return game than anyone else on the field last night.
Terrence Austin also played well in limited opportunity, returning one punt for 19 yards.
Kicker: Shayne Graham had one of those days where you wish you could go back to bed and start over. He missed from 29 and 49 yards, and they weren’t close. The last time he shanked two kicks in a game, was two years ago in a playoff loss to the Jets that ended his tenure in Cincinnati.
On top of that, he got to watch the second half from the sidelines as his competition hit a Graham-slam, so to speak. Gano was 3-for-3 from 32, 34, and 45 yards. Throw in an extra point, and Gano scored a game-high 10 points for the win.
On kickoffs, Gano made the new kickoff rules look foolish, booming all five of his for touchbacks. Channeling his best Sav Rocca, he launched at least two of those for 75+ yards through the far uprights.
Gano did everything right tonight and sent quite a tele-Graham to his coaches.
Punter: What would a special teams report be without a Sav Rocca mention? Rocca reported to camp only a week ago and did a fine job last night. He averaged a decent 36 yards-per-punt average, but held the Steelers to just one return for 9 yards. Good showing, and his position is a lock.
Tags: brandon banks, graham gano, sav rocca, special teams, washington redskins
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