Thursday & Long: Leon Washington's Seattle Comeback
Instead, he's rooting for Darrelle Revis and Nick Mangold to get their deals, and planning to watch his former teammates and coaches become cable TV stars this summer on "Hard Knocks."
"They've got a character cast over there," Washington said via phone from the Seahawks' locker room Wednesday. "It's going to be fun watching them. I still follow the Jets, of course. I just hope they take care of a couple of guys -- guys who deserve it."
It's the Seahawks who are taking care of Washington now, and he says it's going great -- especially from a medical standpoint. Washington believes he will be ready when training camp starts next month, and he's preparing to fight new teammates Julius Jones and Justin Forsett for carries in the Seattle backfield in 2010.
"It's competition, and that's something you've got to respect," Washington said. "Coach [Pete] Carroll told us day one, you're all going to compete for the position. And I love that aspect of it."
The Seahawks are something of a mystery team heading into 2010. With Carroll and a new coaching staff in place, they were as active as any team in the league during the draft. One area of focus was the running game, as they made third-day trades for Washington and LenDale White to add depth to their running back pool. They've since sent White packing (and griping about it), leaving Washington to compete with holdovers Forsett and Jones for the job as the No. 1 back in Seattle.
"Justin's probably the quicker guy -- not as big as Leon and Julius, but probably quicker," Seahawks running backs coach Sherman Smith said in a phone interview from his office. "Julius doesn't have the same quickness, but he's got speed and power for a guy his size, and he's a veteran. He's got that experience. Leon, I would say is a combination of Justin and Julius. He can get you with his quickness, but he can also hit that hole with power."
That's what the Seahawks saw when Washington became available in the spring -- a back who, if he came back healthy from his injury, could be the do-everything guy they used to watch in green and white. Smith said Quinton Ganther, another of the Seattle backs, told him a story about a November 2008 Titans-Jets game in which Ganther played for the Titans and Washington ripped off a 61-yard touchdown run to cap a big day and put away the game.
"Coach," Ganther said to Smith as he recalled the game, "Leon beat us by himself."
The only remaining question is whether the metal rod that remains in Washington's leg will be any impediment to his return to that form. It's all sunshine right now as Washington said he feels good running, pointed out that the metal rod means "I can't break that leg again," and may be the only one who was sad to leave that locker room Wednesday and head off to his pre-training camp vacation.
"My adrenaline is there," Washington said. "I'm still waiting to go out and get the ball in my hands and make plays. My main thing is finishing off this story so my two little boys can read about how their dad broke his leg and everybody wrote him off but he still came back and did great tings in the NFL."
That kind of talk makes his coaches smile. They already enjoy being around Washington, and they love to think his positive attitude and his talent will mix with that kind of motivation.
"He's thinking about leaving a legacy, and that's great," Smith said. "He's a special guy, and we've excited to have him. We made a trade for him on a Saturday, and the following Monday he was here and he hasn't missed a day in this building working to get ready. So that shows you what kind of man he is. And if he can come back from this injury, that's just going to be huge for us."