After the Washington Redskins’ 21-13 Week Nine loss to the Carolina Panthers, Redskins’ head coach Mike Shanahan infamously said that some players may be playing for their positions on the team. It looks like the first casualty of Shanahan’s edict is kick returner/wide receiver Brandon Banks, who began the 2012 NFL season as Washington’s main kick returner.
Banks provided big play potential, evidenced by his 10 yard career average on punt returns, as well as a 24 yard career average on kickoffs heading into 2012. However, his one career touchdown, as well as his small (five feet seven inches, 150 pound) frame brings Banks’ efficiency as a return man into question.
Banks also plies his trade as a wide receiver. Unfortunately, Washington has a logjam at wide receiver. Pierre Garcon, Joshua Morgan, Santana Moss, Leonard Hankerson, and Aldrick Robinson are all ahead of Banks on the depth chart. Redskins’ offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has run a few trick plays for Banks using wide receiver reverses. That’s the extent of Banks’ contribution to the Washington offense.
Banks was inactive for Washington’s Week 14 game with the Baltimore Ravens due to a right hip injury. That won’t help Banks’ cause, considering that Shanahan already had trepidation about keeping him on the roster before the season started. Shanahan selected rookie cornerback Richard Crawford to return punts. Crawford responded by averaging 33 yards per return, including a 64 yard return in overtime to set up the game winning field goal.
Banks’ injury, as well as Crawford’s performance, could spell the end of Banks’ career in Washington. Luckily for Banks, he has three more games to prove his worth to Shanahan and the coaching staff. The only way he can do that is to get healthy and make good decisions when returning kickoffs and punts. Sometimes it’s best to call a fair catch on a punt, or down the ball in the end zone on a kickoff. In any event, Banks’ decision making regarding his next opportunity in Washington returning kicks will either extend his Redskins’ career, or send him packing.