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Chris Thompson, Jamison Crowder Earn Returner Spots

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Chris Thompson will be taking on kick return duties and Jamison Crowder will be the team's punt returner moving forward, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden announced on Thursday.

The young speedsters are getting their opportunity to change games -- and field position -- on special teams.

Redskins head coach Jay Gruden on Thursday announced that third-year running back Chris Thompson will be the team's primary kick returner and rookie wide receiver Jamison Crowder will be the team's punter returner.

Both positions were held by wide receiver Andre Roberts last season.

Crowder, who stands at 5-foot-8 and weighs 185 pounds, was a threat every time he lined up deep fduring his time at Duke, where he recorded 65 punt returns for 869 yards and four touchdowns.

He said whenever he's in punt return situations, he's "just gonna go back there and do what I do best."

"That's make great decisions in the backend, make sure I field the football -- that's the most important thing, catching the ball, you know, making sure we have possession of the ball," he told Redskins.com. "Anything after that is all good; pick up 10 yards or 20 yards, or a touchdown on a punt return. So I'm just gonna stick to my guns, make sure I catch the ball and do first things first."

While his mindset is always to attack and gain as much yardage as he can, Crowder also knows that he has to be smart when back deep. If a fair catch isn't called in a situation that warrants it, the play could result in lost yardage or even a turnover.

"You don't want to take any initial hits, you don't want to fumble the football and give them the ball back," he said. "So it's always whenever you feel like the guys are getting close, you feel like you run out of real estate, you know just fair catch it and just catch it and make sure that we have possession of the football."

Crowder, limited by a hamstring injury, returned just one punt for four yards in the preseason, but Gruden isn't concerned about getting more action at the spot moving forward. 

"He's caught a ton of punts from Tress Way," Gruden said. "And Tress is one of the harder punters in the NFL to catch punts from. So he's got a lot of work. We don't feel any worry." 

A countdown of the Top 10 images of Redskins running back Chris Thompson during the 2014 season.

Thompson, meanwhile, who was listed as the team's No. 1 kick returner on the most recent unofficial depth chart, learned that his duties were solidified for Sunday by looking over the special teams game plan.

"In the package I came across that so that was a part we focused on today, which was kick return," Thompson said. "[We'll] see what happens Sunday."

He was an occasional kick returner during his rookie season in 2013, returning eight kickoffs for 160 yards, a 20-yard average.

Just from a mental standpoint, Thompson already feels a lot better now in terms of being a kickoff man than he ever did two years ago.

"I see everything totally different," Thompson said. "You know, '13 all I was seeing was color when I was running instead of actually seeing guys. I'm seeing everything a lot better now. It's been [special teams coordinator Ben] Kotwica's second year, just understanding his schemes a lot better too."

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