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  • Erica Blackburn

Special Teams Woes Plague Washington in First Preseason Game

If there’s one area you can gripe on the Washington Football Team about in their loss to the New England Patriots, it’s the special teams.

Kicker Dustin Hopkins was the main culprit, missing a 40-yard field goal in the first quarter and a 50-yarder at the start of the third.

“Well, it's not necessarily simple when he misses,” said head coach Ron Rivera. “There's more to it and again, we've got to look at the whole operation. It's about having a rhythm and timing between the snapper, the holder and the kicker. Pa it is the trigger. When the holder triggers for the ball and the ball is snapped, that operation is key and then the placement. As you look at it and you get a chance to take a look at the timing and you can tell right away they don't have the rhythm, their timing is off. It’s something we got to continue to work with, continue to work with, continue to work with. We're kind of looking at it really closely right now, and then talking with [Special Teams Coordinator] Nate [Kaczor] and we'll work on it.”

The Football Team has struggled to find consistency at punt returner for years. Last season, Washington’s top punt returner, Steven Sims, averaged 6.7 yards per return. Head coach Ron Rivera acknowledged the need to challenge the returners.

“I'm very excited with what DeAndre Carter showed us,” said Rivera. “Excited about what [WR] Dax Milne did. He's a solid young football player. Dax, he's a guy that's caught our attention. DeAndre has done a nice job for us as well. So, we have a good, good combination of guys. We want to see [RB] Jaret Patterson get a couple of tries as well. [WR] Steven Sims Jr. I mean, we are in position right now that I think we're going to find a couple of really good returners for us as we go into the season. We have been (challenging them), and last night it was about their better judgment because you don't want to force guys to do anything.”

Good things came from Washington’s first preseason game but they have to shore up the special teams unit if they want to take their season to the next level. “What do we have, 20 days? So they would have 250 [Reps] a day. We'll see if we can get that done.

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