Speedy Brandon Banks averaged 23.0 yards per punt return in the preseason. But in 13 regular season returns, only one has gone for 20 yards. Banks has made fair catches on four additional punts.
Banks’s 5.4-yard average ranks 27th among the league’s punt returners, and the Redskins’ team average of 5.4 yards per return is next to last in the NFL.
Banks, who averaged 9.1 yards per punt return last season, says regardless of his output, he tries not to get discouraged.
“It is what it is. I want to break one just about every time I touch the ball, but it’ll come. I ain’t going to press it too much,” Banks said. “I’m not going to let it frustrate me. I’ll just let it come as it comes, and hope that it comes sooner than later.”
Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan said the minimal returns aren’t entirely Banks’s fault. Instead, the coach says, there are a number of other factors to take into account.
“It all depends on the punts and the coverage,” said Shanahan, who noted that most teams have punted to Banks rather than away from him. “Brandon has got some ability and that can change very quickly. All he has to do is break one and all of a sudden that average is different. We haven’t had the opportunity to break one yet, but when you look at his past history, you are hoping we could improve and he could come up with some big plays because he does have that type of athletic ability.”
Banks said one element that has helped him deal with the frustration of not being able to make an impact in the return game is his involvement in the offense. The third-year pro has recorded four catches for 14 yards and has five carries for 27 yards with most of those runs coming on triple-option plays.
“It helps,” said Banks, whose speed draws attention from defenses whether he is featured on a play or simply a decoy. “My main goal has always been to contribute on offense, and now I’m getting a fair shot of playing on offense and helping the offense move down the field whether I’m getting the ball or not getting the ball.”