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Cartwright Provided a Spark On Kick Returns

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As the Redskins' kickoff return specialist, Rock Cartwright sets the table for the offense.

Last season, he consistently gave Jason Campbell and company good field position to start drives.

In the final weeks, he had two long kick returns late in games to provide a spark.

On Dec. 14, he had an 87-yard kick return at Cincinnati to set up a fourth quarter field goal.

Two weeks later, he had a 43-yard kick return at San Francisco to set up a game-tying touchdown.

The Redskins ended up losing both games, but Cartwright provided a spark for the offense.

Cartwright finished the season with 51 kickoffs for a 25.6-yard average, ranking him 11th among those with 30 or more returns.

He moved into second place on the franchise list of career kickoff return leaders with 183 returns for 4,464 yards, a 24.4 average.

Cartwright may not be the fastest returner in the NFL, but he makes up for it by quickly identifying holes and following blockers.

He has found a niche for himself in a league where kick returners are often young and fast.

Not bad for a 2002 seventh-round draft pick out of Kansas State.

That seventh round, incidentally, produced several quality players, including David Givens, Brett Keisel, Raheem Brock and Kyle Kosier.

Cartwright said that it was "tough" to see the 2008 season come to an end, in part because he wanted to be around his teammates longer.

He knows some of them may not be back in 2009.

"You never know what can happen in this business, so you just enjoy the guys you're around and wish everybody the best," he said.

Cartwright is the fifth longest tenured Redskin, behind Jon Jansen, Chris Samuels, Mike Sellers and James Thrash.

He reflects on his time in Washington and accepts the successes with the failures.

"We've had our winning seasons and we've made the playoffs," he said. "Unfortunately we didn't get there this year because we didn't take care of business in November and December.

"When you don't win games in November and December, you won't be playing in January. We were struggling a little bit and we weren't able to get it done."

Cartwright is certainly cheering on Darren Sproles of the San Diego Chargers this postseason.

Sproles, like Cartwright, attended Kansas State. He is 5-6 in height, the shortest player in the NFL. Similarly, Cartwright stands at 5-7.

Last week, Sproles posted 328 all-purpose yards in the Chargers' 23-17 overtime win over the Indianapolis Colts in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.

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