- John Keim, ESPN Staff Writer
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He hasn't returned a punt in a game the past three seasons. And, at his advanced age for a receiver, it might not be the best thing for his career.
That's why Santana Moss won't volunteer to return punts for the Redskins. However, he also won't turn down the job. The Redskins have questions at this spot after Richard Crawford suffered a season-ending knee injury in Saturday's preseason win over Buffalo. Redskins coach Mike Shanahan is reluctant to put key offensive players deep to return kicks or punts. So Moss might not be a legitimate option. DeAngelo Hall is the only other veteran with punt returns on his résumé. Hall has returned 16 in his career, including three with Washington. He's fumbled four times.
"It's nothing that I'm going to call upon myself to do," Moss said. "I'm always ready for whatever. If I'm asked to go back there I will but it's nothing I'm going to go back there and make it my duty unless it's given to me. ... If I do it, I would like it to be [sparingly]. But it's another way of helping the team so I won't turn it down."
Moss last returned a punt in 2009. That season, he returned 11 punts for 52 yards and he ran back six punts for 124 yards and a touchdown the previous year. But he has returned 112 in his career (all but 24 with the New York Jets from 2001-04).
Moss said it won't be hard for one of the young players to handle the role. Rookie Chris Thompson returned three punts Saturday and undrafted rookie free agent Skye Dawson has returned seven punts for 76 yards this summer. But Thompson has fumbled twice from scrimmage while Dawson fumbled his first punt return this summer (and made a poor decision where to run on his second).
"If you're an athlete and you do things with the ball, as long as you got the ball in your hands and as long as you get practice reps, you can do whatever," Moss said. "I just know if you're used to running with the ball in your hand it's a couple things you have to do to go out there and know how to return a punt and from there it's just natural."