The Washington Redskins took the first step toward filling the three coaching vacancies from the 2012 offseason—announcing former Denver Broncos player and assistant coach Keith Burns as their new special teams coach.
Burns played and coached with the Broncos while current Redskins coach Mike Shanahan was with the team.
Burns replaces longtime Redskins special teams coach Danny Smith, who left for a similar position with the Pittsburgh Steelers last month.
On Tuesday the team released a statement on the hiring of Burns with Shanahan praising Burns' abilities.
“Keith was an excellent special teams player and a strong influence in the locker room for two Super Bowl championship teams,” Shanahan said. “I know our players will enjoy playing for him.”
During his playing days, Burns had been described as "prominent," "standout" and "one of the most accomplished special teams players in the NFL" in several publications. In his 11 seasons with the Broncos, Burns was among the top tacklers on special teams, leading or co-leading the team in tackles in seven seasons.
Ten of his 11 seasons were played while Shanahan coached the Broncos.
In a July 2012 interview on DenverBroncos.com, Keith Burns shared how his own experience as a special teams player carries over to the coaching position.
“Special teams is pretty much where I hung my hat. So I try to get to know all of the young guys and give them a tidbit here and there just to keep them into the game. It’s always good for them to know just as much as I know thinking they’ll be able to help themselves when they get out there."
Burns spent six seasons with Denver as an assistant special teams coach. In 2012, the Broncos' special teams coverage unit ranked second in the NFL in punt coverage and seventh in kickoff coverage.
Another facet of special teams performance the Redskins may be able to capitalize upon with Burns at the helm is increasing the number of touchdowns scored by the special teams. The 'Skins did not have a punt return or kickoff return for a touchdown—nor did they allow one—all of last season.