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Posted at 09:42 AM ET, 07/20/2011

Redskins special teams: Who has the most to prove?

The Washington Redskins should be back to work and opening training camp by the end of the month. There will be jobs on the line, expectations to be met and questions to be answered.

Who are some of the Redskins with the most to prove? Yesterday, we took a look at the offense and defense. Now for special teams.

Graham Gano – Last season, the first-year kicker displayed a strong leg, but accuracy was a big issue as he made just 68.6 percent of his field-goal attempts, third-worst in the league. Gano missed 11 attempts for Washington, which lost five games by three points or fewer. He has spent the offseason refining a new technique that he expects will improve his accuracy. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him have some competition in camp.

Sam Paulescu – The Redskins signed Paulescu after cutting Hunter Smith following a botched snap exchange on a potential winning field goal that cost Washington the win over Tampa Bay. Mike Shanahan’s public reason, however, was the need for better hangtime. Paulescu’s hangtime wasn’t any better than Smith’s, though. He too likely will have some competition in camp.

Nick Sundberg – As a rookie, the long snapper struggled off and on with high and low snaps, but Shanahan stuck with him, believing all he needed was experience. Sundberg now has a full season under his belt and needs to show in training camp that he has become more consistent and won’t be a liability.

Brandon Banks – Mentioned yesterday in the offensive blog because of a need to improve his versatility, Banks also has to improve his consistency. He did well at times last year, was electrifying only a couple of games, but was underwhelming other times out. Banks will have people gunning for him this year.

Niles Paul and Aldrick Robinson – The fastest way for the pair of rookie receivers to see the field could be through special teams. Paul is bigger (6-foot-1, 220), likely more durable, and also has great speed. Robinson (5-10, 178) also is bigger than Banks and runs a 4.4-second 40-yard dash. If one or both can prove to be elusive, capable of breaking a tackle or two and protecting the football, Danny Smith could have a difficult decision to make. And it’s not just returns. Paul and Robinson also can help their case for a roster spot by proving they can be solid on the kick and punt coverage units.

By  |  09:42 AM ET, 07/20/2011

 
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