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Will Blackmon Could Add Punt Returning Back To Workload

Posted Aug 10, 2016

Will Blackmon has three punt return touchdowns on his NFL resume, and the Redskins could tap into his veteran experience if needed this season behind Jamison Crowder.

Will Blackmon has three punt return touchdowns on his NFL resume, and the Redskins could tap into his veteran experience if needed this season behind Jamison Crowder.

Redskins fans know Will Blackmon best as the seasoned veteran who came in last season and provided consistent playmaking from the cornerback position. They also know him as one of the two “old guys” to make the jump to safety this year.

But it wasn’t that long ago that Blackmon, a fourth-round pick in the 2006 NFL Draft out of Boston College, had to use special teams as a way of making it as a professional.

“Punt returning saved my career,” Blackmon said. “Because I pretty much did it as a rookie and did it for five years.”

Blackmon not only did it for five years, he had some success fielding kicks even in the harsh conditions of Green Bay, where he spent his first five seasons.

He totaled three punt return touchdowns as a Packer, including two during the 2008 season.

While he wasn’t needed for his return services last season in Washington, it could be a different story in 2016.

The 31-year-old was listed as the No. 2 punt returner on the team’s first unofficial depth chart of the year behind Jamison Crowder and has been fielding punts all throughout camp.

"It's cool, I like having the football,” Blackmon said.” I was born with the football in my hand. I played three ways in high school, I played three ways in college and two ways in the pros, so it's something I look forward to."

Like Crowder is learning now, being a productive punt returner in the NFL takes more than just college experience.

“The main thing is you want to put someone back there who is accountable,” Blackmon said. “It is easy to catch the ball, easy to have the ball and run for yards, but the hardest part is to catch the ball and I think a lot of guys struggle. That's where I had to learn, because I did struggle early in my career, fielding punts. It's really hard to track the ball."

While some have cast a critical shadow on Crowder’s 5.3 yards per punt return average from his rookie season, Blackmon understands it takes an entire unit clicking for that number to rise.

“You need a full commitment from the entire punt return unit for that to happen, for him to break one loose and I think we have guys who will help him do that, especially when we hear about his average,” Blackmon said. “So we want to do what we can to get him sprung loose.”

With Crowder already ruled out of the preseason opener against Atlanta with a hamstring injury, Blackmon will likely be first in line to return punts.

Does he still have the juice to take it back?

“You’ll have to find out Thursday,” Blackmon said with a smile. 

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