Friday, August 30, 2013

Washington steps sideways in preseason finale


Leon Washington was one of many bubble players trying to step forward, not backward, Thursday night.

The veteran return specialist stepped sideways.

Washington showed a flash of his old self in the New England Patriots' preseason finale, scampering for a 43-yard punt return that set up a touchdown against the New York Giants. It was the kind of play he became known for during his time with the New York Jets and Seattle Seahawks and the reason the Patriots brought him in this offseason.

"We’ve been trying to fight for field position all preseason long, trying to get some returns going, so it was good to set up one of those touchdown drives we had early in the game," Washington said after the game. "Pretty good feeling to make a play – bunch of key blocks out there, so it was easy to do my job making the guy miss and trying to get up the sideline.”

Washington, however, fumbled a punt return in the third quarter, which the Giants recovered.

The gaffe was something Washington probably couldn't afford to commit, as he wasn't given much opportunity to prove himself in the offensive backfield to make up for his run-of-the-mill work in the return game. Through the entire preseason, Washington had just five rushing attempts for 22 yards and three receptions for 35 yards.

Washington attempted 10 punt returns this preseason, averaging 7.5 a return. Julian Edelman fielded four punt returns for an 8-yard average. Rookie Josh Boyce edged Washington in kick returns, averaging 24.3 yards on three returns to Washington's 22-yard average on three returns.

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