Coach Mike Shanahan and several players said they’re satisfied with the week of preparations that the Washington Redskins’ special teams units had on the practice field, and they believe the club’s problems in that area have been addressed.
“We’ll find out on Sunday,” Shanahan said after Friday’s practice. “We’ve had a great week of practice. You always address the issues, not just on special teams but defense and offense, when you do something poorly. … That’s what you do. If you play poorly in one area, you address it, and hopefully we improve.”
Shanahan had said the Redskins would stress special teams improvement in practices this week after surrendering a touchdown on an 86-yard punt return and yielding a 90-yard kickoff return that led to another touchdown during last Sunday night’s defeat at Dallas.
“I definitely think the guys paid a lot more attention to special teams and really locked in a lot more considering it was part of the cause of us taking the loss to the Cowboys,” cornerback David Amerson said. “I definitely think guys are a little bit more focused this week.”
Safety Reed Doughty was scheduled to oversee a special teams meeting later Friday at which players were to study game tapes. Doughty and tight end Niles Paul, in particular, seemed to take a more forceful approach as locker room leaders of the special teams this week.
“Based off what we’ve been through all this week, I think as a unit we’re prepared,” Paul said Friday. “Reed really has stepped up this week and took control and been more vocal. That’s not what Reed wants to do. And I’ve been helping him out because I know that I have a slight influence over people in here on special teams. So we kind of rounded up the troops and, like I said, just to be honest, we haven’t been playing good all year. I don’t think we’ve put together a good special teams game all year.
“But the simple fact that happened on Sunday night, that’s a problem and it opened everybody’s eyes. And it has to be fixed, and we need to be better because that’s embarrassing and it can’t happen again. So I feel like this week we are fully prepared for what’s about to happen. We know who’s coming in. We have a plan for it.”
On Sunday, the Redskins face the Chicago Bears and Devin Hester, the NFL’s career leader in combined touchdowns on punt and kickoff returns.
“What you do with special teams, you have a number of guys that are inexperienced every year,” Shanahan said. “And they get better as the year goes on, or at least you’re hoping they get better as the year goes on. They’re playing different positions. It only takes one guy [making a mistake] to look pretty average. Everybody else can be playing great, very similar to what happened last year in our first couple games of the season. We had two punts blocked. That’s tough to start your year out with two punts blocked. A lot of times it was the difference in the game. So we’re gonna work on the little things, get guys hopefully playing at a very high level and show people we can play at that level.”