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Redskins’ Jackson frustrated by pulled hamstring

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ASHBURN, Va. — Washington Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson, one of the NFL’s fastest players, said on Wednesday his pulled hamstring will sideline him three or four weeks, and he added that this was all new to him.

He pulled the hamstring Sunday while trying to fend off Miami cornerback Brent Grimes.

“I never had to deal with feeling a hamstring like it’s popping before so I was definitely worried,” said Jackson, who led the NFL by averaging 20.9 yards per catch in 2014. “Injuries are part of the game … It’s unfortunate that (just when) I got back from my shoulder (sprain that kept him out of preseason), I suffered a hamstring injury. Hopefully I’ll get better as soon as possible.”

Wide receivers Pierre Garcon and Andre Roberts are veterans, and Ryan Grant played some as a rookie last year as did rookie Jamison Crowder last week. But Rashad Ross, just promoted from the practice squad, is the Washington receiver whose game most resembles Jackson’s.

Ross has played in four NFL games, two with Washington last season after being promoted from the practice squad, but has yet to catch a pass. However, he led the league with 25 catches, 266 yards and four touchdowns this preseason.

“DeSean is one of our best football players at his position in the entire NFL,” quarterback Kirk Cousins said. “Losing him is tough, but we go forward.

“Whether it was through shots or through dink and dunk, we were able to move the football (after Jackson went out in the first quarter last week). Did it affect our offense in a drastic way? No, we felt like we moved it. You saw what (Ross) could do in preseason games. I believe he has played in the NFL in the sense that … he has practiced with us a lot. For a guy who has quote-unquote ‘never played in the NFL,’ I think he’s pretty darn experienced.”

–Dustin Hopkins, who was signed on Monday to replace Kai Forbath, is Washington’s 21st kicker in the last 21-plus seasons. So the 24-year-old Hopkins, who was on Buffalo’s roster for five weeks as a rookie in 2013 but didn’t get in a game before going on injured reserve with a groin injury, shouldn’t plan on a lengthy tenure.

“I’d rather not know (many kickers they’ve used),” said Hopkins, who was cut by Buffalo in favor of veteran Dan Carpenter last summer and by New Orleans this summer in favor of Zach Hocker, whose challenge Forbath fended off last summer. “This was my third training camp and now I have a better idea of how things work in the NFL. I was surprised that I didn’t win the New Orleans job. I thought I performed well so I’m confident going into this opportunity. I’d like to think I’ve kicked off well since high school.”

That is why he is a Redskin and Forbath, who was on the job since Week 6 of 2012, is not.

“We just feel like with the special teams’ difficulties covering kicks sometimes, it would be nice to kick the ball off through the end zone at a consistent rate,” Gruden said. “That’s really the main reason and he kicked field goals accurately out here. Kai, you can’t say enough about his accuracy inside 40 yards. He’s well documented statistically and we’ll miss him, but we’re just trying to get a more rounded kicker that’s a little bit better on longer field goals and kicking off.”

–Niles Paul was a Redskins special teams mainstay the past four seasons. However, days after being named the starting tight end last month, Paul suffered a season-ending dislocated and fractured ankle.

Paul was in a different kind of pain when he watched Washington’s punt coverage unit — which also lost captain Adam Hayward for the season last month — allow a 69-yard touchdown to Miami’s Jarvis Landry for what proved to be the winning score in the opener.

“The gunners gotta get down there to at least give them boys in the core a chance to make a play,” Paul tweeted.

Head coach Jay Gruden wasn’t pleased either, of course. The Redskins have allowed an NFL-high nine touchdowns on punt returns, kickoff returns or blocked kicks in 33 games since proven special teams coach Danny Smith left for Pittsburgh after the 2012 season.

Smith was replaced by Keith Burns, who was fired after one year and replaced by Ben Kotwica, who had just one year in command on his resume. No other team has given up more than five such touchdowns during that span.

“Seems like the last couple years, the kickoff returns have gone against us, the punt returns have gone against us, the blocked punts have gone against us,” said Gruden, noting that punter Tress Way had outkicked his coverage on Landry’s return and adding that a couple of the coverage guys were out of position.

“We have to start doing that ourselves, blocking some punts, returning some kicks. These guys have got to come out and buy into what they’re doing on special teams. I think we’re coaching them up well. We’ve got to coach better and we obviously have got to play better. We’ve got to make sure we get it cleaned up. We have to get off blocks and our flyers have to do a better job.”

Like Way, Trenton Robinson took some of the blame for Landry’s touchdown.

“I didn’t get off (my block) so I played a hand in it,” Robinson said. “We let one get away from us. We don’t plan on letting it happen again.”

Because he is starting, Robinson will play less on special teams. The punt team will be challenged on Sunday by Tavon Austin, who had a 78-yard touchdown against the Redskins last December and took a return 75 yards to the house in last week’s upset of defending Super Bowl champion Seattle.

“He’s probably one of the best returners in this league,” Robinson said. “Homeboy has the juice. He’s fast. He’s quick. He’s explosive. You just gotta try to contain him. Guys are gonna run down there and be huntin’. That’s a challenge you look forward to if you’re a football player.”


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