Fresh leg: Redskins add punter Smith to replace hurt Bidwell

ASHBURN, Va. -- There's little doubt about the lowlight of punter Hunter Smith's first go-round with the Washington Redskins -- and it had nothing to do with a punt.

After rejoining the Redskins by signing as a free agent Thursday, when Josh Bidwell went on season-ending injured reserve with a hip injury, Smith reminisced a bit about that one particular -- and peculiar -- play from 2009.

It was a fake field goal against the New York Giants, and Smith -- the holder on kicks -- was told to take a shotgun snap while nearly every other Redskins player on the field shifted over and lined up near the sideline.

The Giants called a timeout when they saw the "swinging gate" or "picket fence" formation, but then-coach Jim Zorn went ahead and ran the same play, anyway. With no blockers to protect him, Smith was overwhelmed by the Giants' blitz, heaved the ball downfield and was intercepted.

On Thursday, Smith was posed the tongue-in-cheek question: How did the Giants know what was coming?

"Did you not know it was coming the second time?" Smith responded.

First-year Redskins coach Mike Shanahan had some fun with the topic, too, breaking into a wide smile when that play was mentioned.

"I thought he was a brave man," Shanahan said about Smith.

Then, asked what he thought of that play design, Shanahan replied: "Oh, let's not go down there."

Smith averaged 41.3 yards per punt for the Redskins last season, his first with Washington after 10 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts. But he wasn't brought back for 2010, replaced by Bidwell.

Smith missed three games in the 2009 season with a pulled groin in his kicking leg.

"I was surprised last year to play as well as I did, playing through an injury," Smith said. "I won't say it wasn't disappointing to not be on a team at the beginning of this year. But ... things have a way of shaking themselves out, and this one has turned out favorable."

Bidwell injured his hip while warming up before the Redskins' 30-16 loss at the St. Louis Rams in Week 3 and didn't kick, although he did hold for an extra point and field-goal attempts. He returned to action Sunday for a 17-12 victory at the Philadelphia Eagles, punting five times for a 37.2-yard average.

"He was hurting," Shanahan said. "You could tell by his facial expressions that something was wrong. And by his production, the way he punted, you could definitely tell something was wrong."

Bidwell averaged 41.7 yards on 15 punts this season.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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