While the Redskins are hoping that some combination of Jamison Crowder, Chris Thompson and Andre Roberts can revive their long dormant special teams return units in 2015, the man who last returned a kick for a score while wearing the Burgundy and Gold is still thriving, albeit in a slightly different setting.
Brandon Banks, the tiny return threat who latched onto the Redskins as an undrafted free agent in 2010 and made a few spectacular plays for the team but ultimately flamed out in 2012, has been playing for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League since 2013. And after turning in a pair of relatively successful campaigns since making the move up north, his production has reached a totally new height (pun absolutely intended) in 2015.
Of the five punts to be taken back for a touchdown this year in the CFL, Banks has three of them all to himself. The 27-year-old also has the fourth most combined special teams yards in the league, and of players with more than 15 punt returns, he's tops in the CFL with an average return of 12.7 yards. Banks has even notched a rushing touchdown and a receiving touchdown to go along with his work in football's third facet, giving him five total trips to the end zone in just eight games.
While with Washington, Banks started fast but couldn't stay consistent as an NFL return man: His punt return average dropped in each year as a Redskin and he didn't have a return TD in either of his last two seasons in D.C. It's evident, however, that he's solved those issues with Hamilton.
Whether he's matured as a player since entering the CFL, finds the larger field size more advantageous to his playing style, or some other factor has contributed to his increased production, Banks has become one of the most dangerous weapons in the sport. In fact, multiple news outlets have already wondered whether Banks could end up winning the CFL's Most Outstanding Player award -- a true testament to how superb he's been thus far in 2015.
The Tiger-Cats still have 12 games left on their schedule, meaning Banks has plenty more opportunities ahead of him to add to his gaudy stats. If he continues at the pace he's at, he'll easily surpass the CFL record for punt return touchdowns in a season (5). And if he throws in a few more 6-pointers in other areas, Banks' candidacy for MOP could get some serious traction.
Who knows, with the way things are going for him now, the 5-foot-7 Banks may find himself in an unfamiliar position after the CFL season concludes in late November: with people looking up at him for once.