The Washington Redskins have lacked playmakers in general across the board, and for the past two years Brandon Banks has been one of the few with explosive play ability. This year it’s a totally different story, the Redskins have done a great job of improving their team speed, and the competition is heavy. Mike Shanahan told Brandon Banks from the start of off-season workouts – he has to make the team as a receiver and not a returner.
For the past two pre-season’s Banks has scored on a punt return, and last Saturday against the Chicago Bears – he continued that trend. He made the team mostly due to those pre-season returns that proved his speed and explosive capability, but Washington now has players capable of doing the same thing. Not to mention, those players provide the team more at their respective positions.
Receiver – Aldrick Robinson and rookie cornerback Richard Crawford is Banks’ main competition in regards to returning kicks. What’s making it difficult for Banks to seize a spot on the 53 man roster is Aldrick Robinson took advantage of his opportunity at receiver against the Bears. Banks failed to impress at receiver with the plethora of chances he received against the Bills.
The obvious difference between Robinson and Banks is about 3 inches and 13 pounds, with Robinson having the better end of that. Not only did Banks have issues catching the ball against the Bills, but he also struggled with running routes. On several occasions, Banks broke on “in” routes too early, he ran 9 routes too close to the sidelines – not giving the QB enough room to make the throw. Banks also lost the battle on a few jump balls, obviously due to his size. However, if Banks would have used his speed to his advantage, there wouldn’t have been a need for jump balls.
Banks knows he has to make plays on offense, “I think my return was good, but everyone knows I have to make this team at receiver,” Banks said during Monday’s presser. “That’s the bottom line.”
Coach Mike Shanahan made a statement during his Monday presser that raised eyebrows, “When a guy has game-breaking potential and ability, which he has shown, it is tough not to keep a guy like that. But we have a lot of competition and that is what you want to have. Who else can return punts? Who else can play wide receiver? That is what you have to evaluate and sometimes you let some good football players go.”
Shanahan is on record for saying that last season’s cut to 53 was too easy at some positions because of the lack of playmakers. This year, Shanahan has a tougher decision to make and Banks understands that.
Banks is hoping for another opportunity to prove himself against the Indianapolis Colts this Saturday. It will be tough, but Brandon Banks is determined to force the coaching staff to keep him around.