RICHMOND—The Redskins have one return position settled while the other one is up in the air.
The punt returner again will be Jamison Crowder. Some thought that the Redskins might try to find another solution there because Crowder may have a more prominent role in the offense since DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon left as free agents.
But Crowder has been handling punts in practice, even working out there when his participation was very limited due to a hamstring injury. He does not want to give up the role.
“Yeah, as of now, I’m the return guy and I plan on and I hope that I can continue to be the return guy,” he said last week. “That’s all I’ve heard.”
Gruden confirmed that Crowder will keep his role. And he should. Last year he averaged 12.1 yards per return, fourth in the NFL. He had one touchdown and that was the difference in the Redskins’ 16-10 win over the Ravens.
The coach did say he would like to identify a backup punt returner. Against the Ravens, Kendall Fuller had a 17-yard return while Will Blackmon muffed a punt. He made the miscue at the nine but he managed to recover and return the punt to the eight, avoiding disaster. Gruden said that the mistake won’t cause him to give up on Blackmon, who has returned 73 career punts for an 8.9-yard average.
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Gruden said that the search for a kickoff returner is ongoing.
"Chris Thompson can return kicks for us, [Bashaud] Breeland's done some of it. So we're still trying to fight through our final kick returner and I think we'll obviously figure that out in the next couple weeks.”
Last year Thompson led the team in kickoff returns with 17 for a 21.2-yard average. Blackmon returned four kickoffs and averaged 27.3 yards.
Wide receivers Matt Hazel and Zach Pascal returned kickoffs against the Ravens. Neither of those players seems likely to be on the final 53-man roster so Thompson, Breeland and perhaps others could get a crack at it.