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The Skinny On Niles Paul Gaining Weight

Posted by Andrew Walker on June 14, 2012 – 10:44 am

Perhaps Niles Paul had an inclination over the past few months he was going to be making a transition from wide receiver to tight end.

Going into his 2011 rookie season with the Redskins, Paul stood at 6-foot-1 and weighed 220 pounds.

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10 For 80: Pete Wysocki

Posted by Andrew Walker on May 14, 2012 – 12:27 pm

(Wysocki as a youngster with the Saskatchewan Roughriders)

Note: The Redskins Blog will be profiling several former players, coaches and team officials eligible to be voted by you, the fans, in this year’s Redskins 80th Anniversary celebration. To vote for Pete Wysocki or your 10 other all-timers to join the already-chosen list of the 70 Greatest Redskins, go to http://www.redskins80th.com/

It’s no surprise Pete Wysocki made an art of busting wedges while chasing kickoffs as a member of the Washington Redskins.

After all, the former Redskins outside linebacker and special teams standout was an award-winning painter while studying at Western Michigan University.

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Fewer Returns, Same Intensity For Lorenzo

Posted by Christopher Mudd on October 26, 2011 – 5:01 pm

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Lorenzo Alexander is a special teams wrecking ball.

Last year Alexander led the team with 20 special teams tackles, earning him Redskins special teams player of the year honors.  He’s defending his title so far this year, and has accumulated a team leading five special teams’ tackles.

Alexander believes that his special teams units inject a lot of energy into the rest of the team.

“We are not getting too many opportunities back there, people are scared to kick to Banks, and with the new kickoff rules people are kicking it out of the end zone,” Alexander said. “But the opportunities that we do get we gotta take advantage of.”

Because of the new kickoff rules, the name of the special teams’ game has changed a little bit. Touchbacks are a much more common occurrence, which means fewer opportunities for Alexander and the rest of the special teams unit to blow someone up.

However, Alexander maintains that keeping a high level of intensity is a must. Read more »

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Special Teams Still A Work In Progress

Posted by Brian Tinsman on September 28, 2011 – 7:16 pm

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The blocked field goal (painfully depicted above) from Monday night’s game, served as a reminder that a vastly improved special teams still has some work to do.

Already in 2010, kicker Graham Gano has kicked the longest field goal of his career (50 yards against Dallas), and punter Sav Rocca leads the league in punts downed inside the 20-yard line (9).

But the blocked kick on Monday night also could have been the deciding factor in a game the Redskins should have won.

“I came in yesterday and watched all the film,” said long snapper Nick Sundberg, “and I think it’s just one of those things.  The outcome didn’t turn out perfect like it usually does, and the outcome wasn’t in our favor.”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, might be the most politically correct answer ever told in an NFL locker room.

Clearly Sundberg didn’t want to put blame on a teammate for not executing the play perfectly, but replay showed that the error occurred on the hold.  Head coach Mike Shanahan confirmed that this afternoon.

“Basically, the snap was good and we just didn’t get it down and we just didn’t get it done,” Shanahan said.  “Those things do happen, and you can take a look at film, and it’s very easy to see. You just keep on practicing and get some more reps, and hopefully it won’t happen again.”

Sundberg echoed those sentiments hour earlier, but refused to put the blame squarely on Rocca as the holder. Read more »

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From One Trick Pony To ‘One Man Gang’

Posted by Brian Tinsman on September 5, 2011 – 11:00 am

Another year of preseason cuts and another spot secured on the roster for the Redskins Swiss Army Knife, Lorenzo Alexander.

Alexander has been cut three times in his NFL career, and knows what it’s like to be in roster limbo.

“It’s hard, it’s a rough experience for guys who put so much into this sport and come out practicing hard and making a lot of sacrifices and putting your body on the line,” he said.  “When somebody tells you you’re not good enough, it’s hard.  Especially as an athletes, everyone’s a competitor, you been one of the top guys in high school and college, and then here, somebody tells you no for the first time, it’s hard.”

Alexander also attributed some of his motivation to proving those teams and those people wrong.

“It motivates you, and a lot of the guys who don’t make this team can play in this league and will get picked up.”

After learning that he had made the roster for the 2011 season, he reminisced over Twitter back to his days at No. 79, as a defensive tackle:

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Redskins Leg Game Appears To Be Set

Posted by Brian Tinsman on September 2, 2011 – 2:19 pm

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Going into a tense weekend of cuts at Redskins Park, there’s one unit on the team that appears to have found some stability.

After an up and down 2010, kicker Graham Gano came into camp as a relatively controversial character in Redskins Nation.  Since then, his fortunes have changed, and he has done nothing to give anyone any reason for doubt.  On field goals, he was perfect, going 10-for-10.  On extra points, he was perfect, going 8-for-8.

It’s hard to beat perfect.

At no other point in his NFL career, has Gano had a perfect streak for four straight games.  His previous record was two straight, with he had done on several occasions.

Gano was also dominant under the new kickoff rules, booming 16 of his 23 kickoffs for touchbacks.

[Random Gano Fact: The name “Graham” loosely translates to “gravel area.”  “Gano” loosely translates to the “opening of a lake, river,” or someone who is “short in stature.”  Compared to punter Sav Rocca, I think anyone is short in stature.]

Will this preseason success translate to the regular season?  Will he handle the tough winter winds in Washington, New York, and Philly?  Will he handle the humidity of Miami?  Hard to predict, but he’s done everything asked of him in the preseason.

Even if there is another talented kicker on the team: Read more »

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Monday Special Teams Foot Races

Posted by Brian Tinsman on August 29, 2011 – 4:15 pm

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After each practice, different units of players will run the length of the field, as a group, for conditioning purposes.

Today, one of those units happened to be special teams.

Kickers Graham Gano and Clint Stitser were out leading the group while Sav Rocca and Nick Sundberg were chugging along, 10 yards behind.  All-in-all, it was not an awe-inspiring race, but there were still reactions to the race.

“What a race!” receiver Anthony Armstrong sarcastically declared.  “They’re not really thoroughbreds–I don’t know what that is.”

Gano was a pretty clear winner, beating out an eager Stitser.  Armstrong remarked, “You see, Graham is quietly a pretty good athlete.  You might not know it, but he’s quietly pretty explosive.” Read more »

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New Kickoff Rules Hurting Redskins Special Teams Ace

Posted by Brian Tinsman on August 21, 2011 – 1:48 pm

Lorenzo Alexander had a pretty good game on Friday night, finishing with a big sack of Colts quarterback Curtis Painter, for a six-yard loss.  However, he was more fixated on his special teams play, and vented his frustrations on Twitter after the game:

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Special Teams, Special Circumstances

Posted by Brian Tinsman on August 17, 2011 – 2:23 pm

AP Image

Today’s practice ended as many before it have: with the kicker booting a field goal through the uprights.

The difference today is that it wasn’t put through by Redskins kicker Graham Gano; he was nowhere in sight.  Instead, it was put through–with thunder from Down Under–by punter Sav Rocca.

Gano had been at practice early on, and there weren’t any plays where he had an injury, so I turned to Rocca for some insight.

Two words: “Baby time.”

Apparently Gano had come to practice this morning, knowing that his wife was due with their first child at any time.  Once he got the call, he hustled out to be on daddy duty.

“Well, he’s there,” Rocca corrected himself.  “I don’t know if he’s a dad right now, but it’s gonna be very soon.  He was here.”

Once that was cleared up, I asked Rocca–one of the best goal kickers in Aussie Rules history–what it was like to practice his field goals, kickoffs and onside kicks.

“It’s actually a little bit different to what I’m used to,” he explained.  “It’s more of a soccer style [for placekicking], compared to when you drop it from our hands normally [for punting].”

As he informed me, not all oblong balls are created equal.  “Y’know, when I first got here four years ago, I could not hit one from 20 yards,” he said.  “It’s something that I’ve worked on and wanted to get better at.  At least now, if it’s called upon like today, it can look half decent.”

Rocca did look at least ‘half decent’ today, and could be an in-house option if Gano is delayed for Friday’s game.  Regardless, Rocca looks to be a decent insurance policy.

“It’s just–you never know in this league,” Rocca said.  “If Gano has an injury, or something cockeyed happened one way or another, someone’s gonna have to do it.”

“I’m nowhere near his standards, but it’s something that I can fill in for, for the day.”

Too bad he isn’t allowed to kick field goals punt-style:

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Redskins Try Out A Prospect At Long Snapper

Posted by Brian Tinsman on August 15, 2011 – 8:14 am

One advantage of the special teams’ schedule during practice is that there are more opportunity to interact with the fans.  Yesterday’s practice wasn’t open to the public, but a few people still got to tour the facilities and check out practice close-up.

For one lucky boy, close enough to touch.

After practicing a few field goal snaps off the Jugs machine, special teams coordinator Danny Smith called over to young Daniel to come over and snap the ball.  It took a little coaxing by the gruff coach, but Daniel came over and set up behind the machine with long snapper Nick Sundberg. Read more »

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