Redskins hire Broncos assistant Keith Burns to coach special teams [Updated]

Danny Smith

Special teams coordinator Danny Smith with returner Brandon Banks during a preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Update: The Redskins sent out a press release on the hiring of Keith Burns as special teams coach Tuesday morning. In the release coach Mike Shanahan commented on Burns’ history as a strong special teams player for him in Denver.

“Keith was an excellent special teams player and a strong influence in the locker room for two Super Bowl championship teams,” Shanahan said. “I know our players will enjoy playing for him.”

Original post: Feb. 11, 5:46 p.m. The Redskins have an agreement to hire Keith Burns as their special teams coach, a league source confirmed Monday afternoon.

The 40-year old Burns has been the assistant special teams coordinator for the Denver Broncos since 2007. Burns was a linebacker who played primarily on special teams under Mike Shanahan in Denver. Burns served as special teams captain and later coached under Shanahan.

Burns, who helped Denver win two Super Bowls as a player, got his start in coaching from Shanahan.

He takes over for long-time special teams coordinator Danny Smith, who has agreed to take the same position with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Current Redskins assistant special teams coach Richard Hightower was a popular pick among players to replace Smith, but Shanahan elected to go with Burns instead.

Burns, according to league insiders, is regarded as an up-and-coming coaching talent. He graduated from T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, where he lettered in football, basketball and baseball before playing football at Navarro Junior College and Oklahoma State.

Redskins special teams captain Lorenzo Alexander said he has heard Smith speak highly of Burns for his play in the past, but had never met him until this winter at the Pro Bowl.

At the time, Alexander wasn’t aware Burns would replace Smith, who hasn’t yet resigned. But he came away impressed.

“I thought he was a real good dude,” Alexander said. “He really knew football, and he was considered one of the best special teams players of his era, when he played. It was nice to be able and sit back and talk to him, not even knowing he’d be my coach. He said he had a lot of respect for my play.”

Also on The Insider

Offseason questions: What does the future hold for Santana Moss?