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News & Notes: Cartwright to Handle Returns

Special teams coordinator Danny Smith said he expects no personnel changes among his kick returners this season.

That means Rock Cartwright is slated to return kickoffs and Antwaan Randle El remains the punt return specialist.

Smith said he would work in several kick returners through preseason, including rookies J.T. Tryon and Devin Thomas.

But for now Cartwright remains at the top of the depth chart.

"We'll use a number of guys to return kickoffs [in preseason], because you can't have just one guy doing it," Smith said. "Rock obviously is our guy and he had a great season last year. He will be very, very difficult to beat out, in my opinion. But that's what camps and preseason games are for, so we'll see."

Last year, Cartwright returned 52 kickoffs for a 25.8-yard average. He enters the 2008 season ranked fourth all-time in franchise history with 3,157 kickoff return yards.

At punt return, Randle El is "the guy," Smith added.

"We'll use some other people [during preseason], but I wouldn't take it as a real challenge to Antwaan," Smith said. "We have to use some people, because he won't return all of the punts in preseason."

Last year, Randle El returned 34 punts for a 6.1-yard average, the lowest of his career. He has been a dynamic punt returner most of his six-year career, with an 8.9-yard average and six touchdowns.

James Thrash and Thomas are among candidates to return punts in preseason. Santana Moss has also been an effective punt returner in his career.

Regarding Thomas's role on special teams, Smith said: "He will be a participant, and I expect him to help us in a lot of different areas. He is strong, physical and tough--and he can really run. He has a lot of skills that can be of benefit to us."

Thomas has been slowed by a hamstring injury suffered in Thursday's practice. He is expected to miss up to two weeks.

Last year at Michigan State, Thomas set a Big Ten record with 1,135 kickoff return yards. He returned 39 kickoffs for a 29.1-yard average.


Head coach Jim Zorn has banned the hazing of Redskins rookies, something that was adopted in Seattle where Zorn was an assistant coach the last seven years.

So instead of singing songs at team meetings or getting taped to the goal posts, Zorn wants rookies concentrating on the playbook and getting rest in their down time.

"Early in my career, I saw a very high-round draft pick decide he wasn't going to get hazed," Zorn recollected. "He just would not do it. And he never really was accepted on the football team. He was ostracized, and it made things absolutely miserable. I don't want that to happen."

It appears that, for some Redskins veterans, the hazing has gone underground.

Rookie tight end Fred Davis has had to wait his turn to use the shower after practice. And he has been forced to change seats on the bus in deference to a veteran.

Zorn is fine with that behavior, though.

"A rookie getting ice for a veteran is not hazing," he said. "That's doing someone a favor."

Asked about Zorn's policy, Davis said with a smile: "[Veterans] can get around it if they want to. When I was at USC, Coach [Pete] Carroll told us not to [haze freshman], but we still did it anyway."


LaRon Landry has a minor hamstring injury. He watched most of Thursday's practices from the sidelines.

"LaRon has a low strain. I don't think it's going to keep him out that long," Jim Zorn said.

Said Landry: "It's a little aggravated right now, and I'm just resting it."

Asked when he hoped to come back, Landry replied: "As soon as possible."

With rookie safety Kareem Moore still rehabbing from off-season knee surgery, the Redskins turned to Shawn Springs and J.T. Tryon to step in at safety during 11-on-11 work on Thursday.

Also, defensive end Chris Wilson suffered a strained calf injury in Thursday morning's practice. He sat out the afternoon session.


Following his stint on "Dancing With the Stars" earlier this year, Jason Taylor has earned a certain degree of fame outside of football.

After each morning practice, fans--particularly female fans--typically scream out his name, hoping for an autograph or a photo.

Does his presence overshadow some of the other Redskins stars?

"It doesn't distract me and I don't think it distracts anyone else, either," Jim Zorn said. "It's a big thing to have Jason Taylor, a 12-year veteran, come here and become a part of our program. As the initial excitement moves on, we'll all get to work and get going."

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