Veteran wide receiver Santana Moss fielded two first-half punts for a total of 24 yards after lobbying all offseason for opportunities in that capacity.
At 33, and the owner of a key role in the Washington Redskins’ offense, it’s a little unusual that a player like Moss would ask to return punts. Usually, younger players trying to cement their status on the team jump at the opportunity to return kicks.
But Moss said that returning punts is something he has always loved. And now that he is the team’s slot receiver, rather than a starting wideout, he sees returning punts as a chance to go back to his roots.
“It came with me. It got me here. Some people do it just to do it. That’s what got me into the league,” Moss said. “I was a punt returner/wide receiver, and mostly a slot receiver in college. If you look at my return skills and things I did punt return wise, that really overshadowed my receiving a lot. When I got here, I became a full-time starter, so I didn’t have to go back there as much. But now that my role has changed, and I’m in the slot a whole lot more, anything to help the team, I’ll do it.”
Moss also said that he now feels better suited for the punt return role after losing 15 pounds over the offseason.
“I’ve been talking about it since OTAs, especially since I lost all that weight, I feel like I can run again,” Moss said. “Not like I wasn’t running before, but it’s a lot more easier. I felt like my old self. I’ve been messing around, saying, ‘Hey, man, if [Brandon] Banks ever stubs his toe, you can count on me.’”
Banks watched from the sidelines during the first half, while Moss fielded punts and tight end Niles Paul handled kickoff return duties.
“We just wanted to get a look at Santana out there,” Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. “You never know when a guy goes down. We know what Santana has done in the past.”