The Redskins will once again be up against a lethal punt returner, this time in Tavon Austin. In the Redskins-Rams matchup last year, Austin took a punt back 78 yards for a touchdown.
Redskins punter Tress Way wants to do everything in his power to prevent a repeat from last season when Rams returner Tavon Austin took back a punt 78 yards to the house.
A look back at top images in games between the Washington Redskins and St. Louis Rams.
"If I can make Tavon think he's in a box in any sort of way that he just can't get out, that our guys are on him-whether that's hang time, or distance, or direction- I just got to have a good plan going forward," Way told Redskins.com on Thursday. "[Special teams coordinator] Ben [Kotwica] and I, we've been talking this week about little by little what we are wanting to do, it's a game plan, then executing the game plan."
Of course stopping Austin – who clocked in at 4.34 seconds at the 2013 NFL Combine – is easier said than done.
He has 70 career punt returns to his name with 756 yards and three touchdowns. Four times he's returned a punt at least 40 yards.
Last week in the Rams' 34-31 overtime victory over the Seattle Seahawks, Austin took back two punts for 85 yards including one 75 yards for a score.
Between his own playmaking ability and the fact that the Redskins once again gave up a punt return touchdown last Sunday against the Miami Dolphins – the deciding play in a 17-10 final.
"You get to this level and everybody is so good at what they do, that every once in a while it goes both ways," Way said. "Sometimes we blast a punt down there and we get a 50-yard net, and then sometimes you blast a punt down, they block it correctly, you got an incredibly athlete like [Jarvis] Landry back there and he can make everybody miss and take it to the house."
Safety Trenton Robinson, who lead the team in special teams tackles last year and has taken on an even bigger role with the unit this season, said he was "really upset" with how that play, and others that have involved touchdowns over the last two years, turned out.
"It was a play that we left out there on special teams," Robinson said. "Guys get paid, guys make plays, but all we can do is look at it and get better. We ain't focused on 2013. This is a different team than 2013, we got guys out there that are flying around. We let one get away from us, we don't plan on letting that happen again."
Robinson said that "hands down" Austin is one of the most lethal returners in the game today.
"We'll have to contain him," Robinson said. "He's fast, he's quick, he's explosive, [we've] got to try and contain him. That's what we'll do and guys are going to run down there and be hunting, we look forward to it. That's a challenge, that if you're a football player, you look forward to going to challenge."
Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said that it's hard to practice punt protection during the week due to roster size, but that there are still ways to work on this aspect of the game.
"We've got to do a better job in all phases of special teams, no question about it," he said. "Tavon took one back last year, we all know that. He took one back last week, in fact. He's a dangerous player both as a returner and as a receiver and as a running back. So, we have got to do a good job with the hang-time. First of all, we have got to protect out punter then get the proper hang-time and then get the coverage."