- The Redskins released punter Hunter Smith two days after he failed to secure a high snap from Nick Sundberg on what would've been the game-tying extra point attempt. (Photo: Jay Westcott)
A league source has confirmed that the Washington Redskins have released punter Hunter Smith with three games left in the season. The Redskins have replaced him with Sam Paulescu, who appeared in one game for Washington last season and averaged 50 yards on three punts.
Smith, who was signed four weeks into the season when Josh Bidwell went on injured reserve with a hip injury, ranked 31st in the league with an average of 40.5 yards a punt.
He had a hand in the Redskins' botched extra point attempt that kept Washington from tying the score and forcing overtime on Sunday. Nick Sundberg's snap was high, the ball slipped through Smith's hands, and the Bucs recovered. Washington fell 17-16 and dropped to 5-8 on the year.
After the game, Smith took the blame for the bad play and said Sundberg or kicker Graham Gano, who in the game also missed two field goals, should receive no blame. Smith, a 12th-year veteran, instead said he should be blamed entirely.
The next day, after watching film, Smith maintained his stance even though his teammates said that the game should've never gotten to that point.
"Well, it’s fine if they do [say that]," Smith said on Monday. "But I said it because I dropped the ball. We should’ve tied the game and gone into overtime. Here’s how I see it. In the NFL, everybody says well, what about the dropped pass early in the game, what about the bad pass or missed field goals, what about, what about, what about. In the context of the NFL game, lots of things happen, lots of opposition, and lot of it is hard to overcome. But in the end, when you have a chance to tie it up, I don’t put the blame on anybody for the other 60 minutes. We had to tie it up, and I dropped it. It’s not me falling on my sword, I didn’t do it."
Smith said that although very upset over the play, it hadn't caused him to lose any sleep. He admitted that "if anyone should be worried about losing their job, it's me," but said he wasn't letting that fear consume him.
"I slept well. Probably just because I was exhausted," Smith said. "I have a beautiful wife, I have three wonderful children, and I have a faithful God. That is reality to me. It’s not ideology and it’s not fairytale. That’s not saying this doesn’t mean anything, because I did let this organization down. But I can move forward and get ready for Dallas because I have a bit of a different reality."
Smith's release is kind of surprising considering when asked about the punter blaming himself for the loss, coach Mike Shanahan praised Smith for stepping up, but said he wasn't entirely to blame.
"The snap was a little high, the conditions were wet," Shanahan said. "Could it have been a better snap? Sure. Could he have gotten it down? Sure. Like most winners, you want them to take the blame, and Hunter’s that type of guy. Could the snap have been better? Sure if could have. But extra points, you’re thinking 99.9 percent and you’re obviously disappointed when that doesn’t happen."