During the first quarter of Seattle’s win over Minnesota last week, Seahawks return man Leon Washington retreated 2-yards deep in the end zone, normally a place where you let the ball hit the turf and take a touchback, bringing the ball out on the 20-yard line.
Instead, Washington caught the ball on a 57-yard boot by Minnesota punter Chris Kluwe and exploded up the field, barely making it past the 20-yard line.
Washington’s questionable decision-making on the play is a sign that’s he’s itching to make the best out of the limited opportunities he’s had in the return game this season.
“No doubt about it,” Washington said. “That’s something that we talk about – when you do have an opportunity, you have to take advantage of it because of that.
“I’m looking forward to later on this season, when the air is a little more chill and the ball doesn’t travel as far, and you’ll get those opportunities.”
Seattle coach Pete Carroll said he usually likes to see his return man let any punt go that’s sailing beyond the 8-yard line.
“That’s going to happen sometimes,” Carroll said. “And on a bombed kick, you can take advantage of a long kick in that situation. He’s an experienced player, and he made it work. But that’s not the way we choose to do it.”
The 30-year-old Washington is sixth in the league in kickoff returns, averaging 29.1 yards a return, and is tied for 13th in the league in punt returns, averaging 8.5 yards a return.
However, the season is more than half over and Washington has had only 35 chances to make something happen. Last season, Washington finished with 84 returns combined in 16 games.
Washington has kick returns for 83 and 69 yards this season, and a punt return for 52 yards, and those explosive plays have helped set up scoring chances for Seattle’s offense. But Washington hasn’t returned a kick or punt for a touchdown since Dec. 12, 2010, a 92-yard kickoff return in a 40-21 loss to San Francisco.
Washington said he’s looking forward to playing against his former team, the New York Jets, on Sunday.