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Wednesday, October 15, 2008
The scoop on the Redskins' new punter

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

We interrupt the Cowboys news cycle to inform you that the Redskins had a busy "day off" Tuesday. Struggling rookie punter Durant Brooks was replaced by veteran Ryan Plackemeier and reserve safety Reed Doughty (back) was placed on injured reserve. Former Bears safety Mike Green was signed to provide depth behind starter Chris Horton.

Oh, and former Seahawks All-Pro Shaun Alexander was signed to fill in for the injured Ladell Betts. Alexander had 27 touchdowns in 2005, but his career has been in steady decline since. Head coach Jim Zorn and running backs coach Stump Mitchell worked with Alexander in Seattle, so they felt comfortable bringing him in. Clinton Portis is averaging a league-leading 22 carries per game, and the presence of Alexander won't change that. As NFC West blogger Mike Sando explained to me during a recent conversation, Alexander's not particularly effective as a third-down back because he rarely catches the ball and he's not fond of picking up the blitz.

In some ways, this feels like a favor that Zorn's doing for Alexander. He's no more than a relatively inexpensive insurance policy. Regarding Plackemeier, there are people in Seattle who thought he could have eventually become like Cowboys Pro Bowl punter Mat McBriar. He has a powerful leg, and he did a nice job in 2006-07. He only got six punts in the 2008 preseason in Seattle because he was banged up, and then he had a 30-yard net average on 11 punts in miserable conditions in a season-opening loss to Buffalo. I thought it was the wrong move by the Seahawks at the time.

Not to be the eternal optimist, but I actually think Plackemeier will be a huge upgrade over Brooks. The Redskins held on to him about two weeks too long because they were winning. His lousy effort against the Rams contributed to the loss Sunday.

For more punting analysis, stay tuned to the NFC Beast. I'll give McBriar a call and see what he thinks of Plackemeier. Australian punters are a tight-knit group, led by the godfather of Aussie punting, the retired Darren Bennett.