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Niles Paul Hoping Kickoff Return Role Will Be His To Keep

By ZAC BOYER

zboyer@freelancestar.com | @ZacBoyer

ASHBURN – As a specialist all four years at Nebraska, Niles Paul has an idea of what makes a successful kickoff returner: He once returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown.

Paul

He returned two kickoffs for a combined 37 yards for the Washington Redskins on Sunday, making his debut in a role he’d like to keep.

“I’m comfortable with doing that,” Paul said. “I’m just happy that they allow me to do it. I’ve shown throughout the returns that I have had that I can do it and I’m capable of doing it, and I’ve just got to show up.”

The Redskins gave Paul the role on Sunday against Baltimore instead of Brandon Banks, who had served as the primary return specialist since early in the 2010 season.

Also the primary punt returner, Banks was replaced in that role by Richard Crawford, who had three returns for 100 yards – including 64 on one return in overtime that set up Kai Forbath’s winning 34-yard field goal.

Paul went 19 yards but fumbled the ball on his second attempt, nearly losing possession as Ravens receiver David Reed was ruled to have recovered the fumble just out of bounds after a review.

“He told me there wasn’t too much more I could do on that play,” Paul said. “[Linebacker Courtney Upshaw] made a good hit, kind of got it directly on the ball. I had the ball, and I had it secured, and he got a good hit on me.”

Paul played just five snaps as a tight end, which was down from a peak of 40 against Carolina on Nov. 4. Head coach Mike Shanahan said the limited plays were in accordance with Paul’s larger role on special teams.

“A lot of times when you do have a guy that’s fresh, it does give you a little bit of an advantage, especially in the second half,” Shanahan said.

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