Keith Burns preaches patience on special teams

Chris Thompson

Special teams coach Keith Burns is trying to be patient with returner Chris Thompson, above, and others. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

With his unit coming off of its roughest outing of the young season, Redskins special teams coach Keith Burns preached patience and hard work to his players just before they departed for their five-day bye-week getaway.

The Redskins on Sunday surrendered a blocked punt, and rookie punt returner Chris Thompson averaged just 5.5 yards on two attempts, and he let two other punts hit the turf rather than attempting to field them. The Redskins also allowed the Raiders to gain 19 yards on a fourth-and-1 fake punt run.

Linebacker Perry Riley Jr. admitted getting confused while trying to defend a stunt on the play that ended with the Raiders blocking Sav Rocca’s punt and recovering it in the end zone. Burns said communication – both between him and his players, and the players amongst themselves – and improved preparation will ensure such an error doesn’t happen again.

Burns said the fake punt didn’t come as a surprise. On the play, Oakland punter Marquette King shifted out of punting formation to line up under center take the snap. He then pitched it to running back Taiwan Jones, who eluded Washington’s Aldrick Robinson in the backfield and then picked up 19 yards.

Burns said the Raiders are known for running fakes frequently, so the Redskins had prepared, and that Robinson just narrowly missed making the play.

Despite the struggles, which included Thompson failing to make an impact for a fourth straight week as a punt returner, Burns said he is confident his unit will get better as the season progresses.

“The biggest thing is it’s always a work in progress,” Burns said. “You’re dealing with a lot of young guys, you’re changing guys in and out. But at the same time, we’re not where we want to be, but we’re improving. The biggest thing is we have to go with the flow of the game to be able to have chances in the return game. The way these young guys are kicking the ball, it’s tough to get a kickoff return – or a decent one anyway – so you’ve just got to be patient. That’s what I’ve been preaching to the guys: be patient and don’t feel like you have to press and that we have to go out there and win the game. Our job is not to mess the game up.”

Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag on Tuesday.

What’s ahead:

● The Redskins are off until Mon. Oct. 7. The next game is 8:30 p.m. Sun. Oct. 13 at Dallas.

More on the Redskins and NFL:

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Redskins head into the bye week confident and in a much better mood

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