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For Cartwright, Many Happy Returns


In the last three seasons, Rock Cartwright has proven to be a dangerous player on kick returns.


He did it again in the Redskins' regular season opener, which turned out not so well for the Redskins as the Giants took the NFC East contest 16-7.

After New York went up 16-0, Cartwright fielded a John Carney kickoff at his own five and took it back to the New York 45 before being stopped by the Giants' Kevin Dockery.

That 50-yard effort by Cartwright gave the Redskins some momentum and they cashed in just about two minutes later.

That's when Jason Campbell and Santana Moss combined on a 12-yard score that drew Washington closer just before halftime.

In the NFL's season-opening game, Cartwright returned five kicks and averaged 29 yards per effort.

"I do my part and that part is helping the offense gain field position," he said. "The kickoff return team takes a lot of pride in what we do. [Special teams coordinator] Danny Smith lets us go out and do our jobs.

"I've pretty much got the same guys blocking for me that I did last year. Being familiar with those guys, of course, I feel more comfortable."

Cartwright has a definite yard marker in mind when he returns a kickoff.

"The way we look at it, if I get to the 33, that's a good return," he said. "But then there are all sorts of other factors. Are we playing on the road? What about the hang time? What's the wind like?"

Cartwright continued: "Generally, any kick that's deeper than three yards in the end zone, you take a knee. But with all of the other factors, you never know.


"This year in the preseason, against Carolina, I brought a kick out of the end zone that was seven yards deep."

Now in his seventh season with the Redskins, the 5-8, 218-pound Cartwright has just about created a second career for himself as a kick return specialist.

Two years ago, for instance, he went 100 yards for a score at Dallas. That one marked the first time the Cowboys had given up a kick return for a TD since 1993.

Against the Redskins' Week 4 opponent, the Arizona Cardinals, Cartwright had an exceptional moment in last year's matchup at FedExField.

He took the opening kickoff of the second half back 80 yards in a game that went back and forth before the Redskins pulled out a 21-19 decision.

Last year, Cartwright moved into fourth place on the franchise's all-time kickoff return yardage list with 3,157 total yards.

Brian Mitchell is No. 1 with 9,586 career kickoff return yards. Mitchell is followed by Mike Nelms (4,128) Dick James (3,949) and Cartwright.

In 2006, Cartwright came up with 1,541 yards on his kickoff returns. That total surpassed Mitchell's single-season record (1,478) set in 1994.

"To learn about my place in Redskins history, that's nice," said Cartwright. "But really, all I'm trying to do is to help us win.

"We had a tough opener, but you know, that's in the past. There's nothing we can do other than get ready to play the New Orleans Saints this Sunday.

"We're all in this together. You have to check your ego at the door."

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