By Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 7, 2010; 5:56 PM
In a major blow to the Washington Redskins' return units, dynamic rookie returner Brandon Banks underwent knee surgery last week and could be sidelined two weeks, two people familiar with the situation said Sunday.
Banks, who ranks among the NFL leaders in kickoff and punt returns, apparently had the procedure late last week, according to the team sources. There were no complications and Banks is expected to begin the rehab process when the Redskins, who had a bye last week, return to work Monday at Redskins Park.
"Coach [Mike] Shanahan will address all questions after practice," said Tony Wyllie, the Redskins' senior vice president and team spokesman.
The Redskins do not expect Banks to play when they resume their schedule Nov. 15 against the Philadelphia Eagles, the sources said. If all goes well with Banks's rehab, however, he could return in time for the Week 11 game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field.
Shanahan did not reveal Banks's injury while meeting with reporters Nov. 1 and 2 at the complex. Apparently, few in the organization were informed of the situation before the break began.
Playing without Banks for any time would be a significant loss for coordinator Danny Smith's return units. An undrafted free agent from Kansas State, Banks was sensational in the first half.
In the first eight games, Banks ranked second in the league with 234 yards on punt returns and third with a 13.8-yard average. Banks' 27.3-yard average on kickoff returns ranks seventh in the NFL.
The Redskins wasted Banks's outstanding effort in the 37-25 loss to the Detroit Lions in Week 8. During the team's final game before the break, Banks averaged 35.5 yards on six kickoff returns, had a 96-yard touchdown and another long potential touchdown return nullified because of a penalty.
Running back Chad Simpson, who was slowed recently because of a hamstring injury, is expected to fill Banks's role on kickoff returns. Simpson has an average of 29.5 yards on two returns for the Redskins this season. He has a 23.7-yard average in his career.
Nickel cornerback Phillip Buchanon would likely handle punts against the Eagles. Buchanon has three fair catches and only two returns for the Redskins, averaging 0.5 yards.
Banks replaced Buchanon on punt returns during the 17-12 victory against the Eagles in Week 4, gaining 53 yards on his first return and had a 25.0-yard average on three returns.
Shanahan is among Banks's biggest supporters in the organization, according to team sources. And Shanahan, who runs the entire football operation, determined early in the preseason the diminutive Banks (he is listed a 5 foot 7, 155 pounds) was among the Redskins' top 53 players despite the alarming lack of ball security he displayed during the preseason schedule.
The Redskins (4-4) are third in the NFC East.