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Special Teams Experience Up-And-Down Opener

Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden has spent the entire offseason reiterating the importance of sound special teams play, so he admitted on Sunday that he was dissapointed in the fact that the Houston Texans were able to block an extra-point attempt and a punt in the Redskins' 17-6, season-opening loss.

The punt block also resulted in a return for a touchdown.

"We just let the guy go inside and that's a big play," Gruden said of the blocked punt after the game. "That's frustrating."

Punter Tress Way – who was making his NFL debut – said he saw a breakdown on the line leading to the block late in the second quarter.

"I think something went wrong up front," he told the media after the game. "That is just kind of one of those things where right after (forcing a three-and-out) they are all juiced up. It (was) right before halftime, so we've got to buckle down and do a little better there."

Way also said he's going to go back and look at game film to see if there's anything he can do individually to prevent any more blocks.

"I will get back and check my operation time to make sure that I wasn't too slow," he said. "With me being a lefty, my body faces left a little more, so whenever he came across I let go of it, and honestly, he could have picked it out of my hand instead of blocking it. So hats off to him."

Tight end Niles Paul said some of the mistakes seen on the field Sunday weren't a proper representation of how hard the special teams unit has been working.

"We worked so hard in this offseason and preseason and training camp, so you hope to get rid of those mistakes in the preseason," Paul admitted. "We had a few out there and the Texans played us tough and that's expected.

"We've just got to execute better."

Tight end Logan Paulsen, a veteran who has stepped up in terms of a leadership role on the special teams unit alongside Paul and linebacker Adam Hayward, said he saw general overall improvement from the special teams units, but that the team will use its film sessions to go back and correct the major mistakes.

"We were better than we had been," Paulsen said. "Obviously we're going to have to correct a lot of things, but I think it's a good step in the right direction."

Wide receiver Andre Roberts recorded two kickoff returns, including his longest since the 2012 season, while also hauling in two punts for 36 yards. His second return could've resulted in a huge gain before a miscommunication led to a collision with fullback Darrel Young near the sideline.

"I felt really good in the return game," Roberts told Larry Michael, Voice of the Redskins. "DY does a great job blocking for me in kick return and punt return. I love to have him out there.

"We're all going to have our mistakes here and there, but I love that guy and I love having him out there blocking for me."   

In other special teams aspects Sunday, Way punted five times in the game, averaging nearly 50 yards per punt, and kicker Kai Forbath showed improvement on his kickoffs by booting the opening kick of the game well into the end zone for a touchback.

The rookie punter from Oklahoma saw those positives and believes the Redskins are close to stringing together consistently solid performances.

"It's so close and I know that is probably the most frustrating part," he said. "But the good news is that we are that close to just busting it wide open and really changing the game. Special teams could have been huge tonight putting points on the board.

"We've just got to keep working get better every week, that's what the coaches always stress."

Gruden said the mistakes from Sunday's game will be highlighted immediately.

"Special teams, other than those two mishaps, I thought played extremely well," he said during his press conference after the game. "There are a lot of positives to look at, but when you lose the game, sometimes the negatives will override the positives.

"That's something we have to address right away."




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