Special teams additions eager to chip in for Redskins

Josh Hull

Josh Hull, here in 2012 with the Rams, described himself as a “core special teamer” there. (Seth Perlman/Associated Press)

The Washington Redskins on Wednesday returned to the practice fields and welcomed in three players that they expect to help boost their struggling special teams units.

Long snapper Kyle Nelson – signed Tuesday to replace Nick Sundberg, who on Sunday tore his meniscus in his right knee and is lost for the season – planned to spend the day acclimating himself to the styles and preferences of punter/holder Sav Rocca and place kicker Kai Forbath.

Meanwhile, linebacker Josh Hull and safety Trenton Robinson hoped to begin picking up on special teams coordinator Keith Burns’ philosophies while also taking steps toward displaying the relentlessness and aggression required to make an impact on Burns’ units.

The 6-2, 240-pound Nelson played in six games for the San Diego Chargers last season and spent the preseason with the Seattle Seahawks.

He has a degree of familiarity with the Redskins, having worked briefly with Rocca and Forbath during a tryout with Washington when Sundberg broke his arm last season, and he trains with Sundberg every offseason in Phoenix. The two have the same snapping coach, but he said his grip differs slightly from Sundberg’s. He expects to have his timing and feel with Rocca and Forbath down in roughly a day or so, however.

“It’s pretty much the same kind of technique. Our grip is different, but pretty much the same,” Nelson said. “[It’ll take] a day or two of practice. I just need to know what they want and where they want me to put it.”

Robinson is a second-year safety, who spent a portion of his rookie season with San Francisco and was on Philadelphia’s practice squad until getting released two weeks ago. He also found a familiar face when he arrived at Redskins Park on Tuesday: Former Michigan State teammate Kirk Cousins.

When the locker room opened to reporters Wednesday morning, Cousins was at the team’s white board, going over the day’s schedule with Robinson.

“That’s awesome,” Robinson said when asked about Cousins. “Kirk’s always been a leader, someone you can go to whether you’re here or on another team and you can talk to him whether it’s spiritually, or if you just need to talk to somebody, it’s good.”

The 5-9, 193-pound Robinson said that coaches hadn’t discussed his role on defense. Instead, the only talks he had since arriving at Redskins Park was centered around special teams.

Discussing the opportunity at hand, Robinson, “I’m excited to get back out there on special teams. My rookie year I got a chance to do some on special teams in San Francisco and then I did the preseason out there, and I feel more comfortable and confident than when I did.” He described himself as a player as “Physical, fast and smart. … I feel like I can help a lot. I feel like I can run down there. I play with enthusiasm, speed and heart, and feel like I can make an impact whenever they put me in there.”

Hull, a fourth-year pro, spent the first three seasons of his career in St. Louis but got cut during the preseason. He had worked out for Washington two weeks ago, and hoped that meant an opportunity would soon come, but he wasn’t entirely sure.

“I felt like I put a solid workout in,” Hull said. “There’s a bunch of guys that are free agents that could play on any team. Whether or not I was going to get the call, I was just trying to be patient. Now I just want to work hard.”

Hull’s primary focus also will be special teams. His services will be needed as Washington tries to replace linebacker Bryan Kehl, who tore his anterior crucicate ligament on Sunday.

Hull said although he has much to learn on defense – going from a 4-3 in St. Louis to a 3-4 in Washington – he expects to jump right in and make an impact on special teams.

“I think it’s going to be pretty easy to separate because I was in St. Louis the previous three years and I was a core special teams guy,” the 6-3, 246-pound Penn State product said. “I experienced a pretty good amount of success out there, so I’m just going to rely on the same techniques. Hopefully, I’ll be able to help this team out.”

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 began practice at 1 p.m. Coach Mike Shanahan and quarterback Robert Griffin III speak with reporters afterward.

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