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News & Notes: Randle El, Punt Returns a Focus Again


With Antwaan Randle El continuing to struggle on punt returns, the Redskins may use Santana Moss more in that role and possibly try out Devin Thomas in the coming weeks.

Also, DeAngelo Hall could be added back into the punt return mix once he is fully recovered from a knee injury.

Head coach Jim Zorn said he would dicuss punt returns this week with special teams coordinator Danny Smith.

"I do know that I have to back [Randle El] off a little bit just from the standpoint of getting him to regroup," Zorn said. "He is not out of the question, but I am going to consider Santana a little bit more."

On Monday, Zorn admitted that he was "surprised" at how Randle El has struggled on punt returns this season.

Randle El opened the season as the primary punt returner, but Moss and Hall were added to the mix midseason.

Randle El is averaging just 3.9 yards of 15 punt returns this season. He has had two fumbles as well.

Zorn said he has stuck with Randle El because he has trust hat he will secure the ball and won't make critical turnovers.

That trust may be waning, though.

In Sunday's game at Oakland, Randle El let a Shane Lechler punt bounce away from him and the ball rolled an additional 20 yards.

Then, in the fourth quarter, Randle El fumbled a punt that was recovered by the Raiders. Fortunately, the Redskins were ahead 31-13 at the time, so the turnover was not costly.

Meantime, Thomas has lobbied coaches for the opportunity to return punts.

He has served as the Redskins' primary kickoff returner the last three games. For the season, he has 17 returns for a 23.6-yard average.

"I could give him one," Zorn said. "Catching a punt is a little bit different versus catching a kickoff. The decision-making--he hasn't had to make [a decision] on that minus-10 yard line, on that fair catch. We are getting there with [Thomas]. Certainly he is going to say, 'I can do it, put me in there.'"


The Redskins signed linebacker Curtis Gatewood from the Pittsburgh Steelers' practice squad on Tuesday.

To make room for Gatewood, the Redskins released offensive lineman D'Anthony Batiste.

Gatewood, 6-3 and 240 pounds, entered the NFL as an undrafted rookie free agent with the Redskins in 2008. He spent time on the team's practice squad but was signed by the Kansas City Chiefs midseason.

He played in six games with the Chiefs in 2008. He has also had stints with the Philadelphia Eagles and Detroit Lions.

Batiste played in eight games with the Redskins this season.

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