Redskins sign Metcalf

The Redskins hope they've found an answer to a nagging season-long problem when they signed punt returner Eric Metcalf on Wednesday. The 12-year veteran, and son of former Redskin Terry Metcalf, should improve a unit which is averaging just 2.4 yards per return.

Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer said the problem on punt returns is due, in part, to poor blocking.

But bad decisions has played a role, too. Michael Bates seemingly struggled to know when to catch the ball, particularly deep in his own territory. The result is bad field position for an offense already having problems.

Metcalf has an excellent track record: he's scored 11 touchdowns on punt and kickoff returns, tying him with ex-Redskin Brian Mitchell for an NFL record.

And Schottenheimer said he still sees some of what helped Metcalf get those touchdowns, even though he averaged only 6.9 yards on his last 77 punt returns. Metcalf did not play for anyone last year and was cut by Oakland this summer.

''Eric still has his quickness,'' Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer said. ''[In his prime], you couldn't get your hands on him. He had great quickness. A guy who returns punts well is a guy who makes the first [defender] miss. If you get that first guy to miss then you have a chance to go.''

Metcalf said he's confident he can make an impact, something he realized during his short stay with Oakland. ''It was just going out there knowing I can make moves,'' Metcalf said. ''And just watching guys in minicamp I knew I could still make guys miss. That's what it's all about. I knew I still had a chance to go out and do some things.''

Metcalf attended O'Connell High School in Arlington, Va., but said he never dreamed of playing for the Redskins. His dad played in Washington in 1981, at the end of his career.

''The year my dad was cut by the Redskins he had told me all summer they were going to the Super Bowl and they were going to win it,'' Metcalf said. ''And they did. That's one of my biggest memories.

''I really never thought about playing for the Redskins coming out of [high] school. It was like being at home. I just didn't think I would do that. But there's always an emotional tie doing the same things my dad did.''

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