FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Leon Washington is ready to do more than just return kicks and punts for the New England Patriots.
But if that's all the free agent signee gets to do for his new team, he
sounds ready to live with it.
"Ever since I was a rookie, I was always a team player," Washington
said Sunday, after the team's first full-pads practice. "That's been my
main focus. Knowing I could so many different things well -- running
the ball, catching the ball, returning kicks, (I) even made tackles (on
special teams) sometimes in my career.
"That's the same approach I have here - coming in, helping the team out
the best way I can."
Washington, now 31, debuted with the New York Jets and played the last
three seasons with Seattle. A 98-yard kick return for a touchdown last
year gave him eight kick return TDs in his seven-year career, tying him
with Josh Cribbs for the NFL record.
With Danny Woodhead leaving the Patriots for San Diego, there's an
opening for an all-purpose third-down back in New England. Shane Vereen
will likely get most of that work and there's a chance Washington won't
get much time.
"He's played back there before but not a lot recently with the
Seahawks," Belichick said. "We'll put him in our system, teach him the
things that he needs to learn at that position, evaluate him with the
Washington's offensive plays indeed dwindled the last two years. Asked
if that was disappointing, though, he said, "No, not really.
"Obviously, I'm a competitor and want to be on the football field, want
to be out there and help the team out as much as I can. But not really
- we won a bunch of games when I was in Seattle, being a team player is
the most important thing."
He said he came to New England for the "obvious" reasons.
"You watch this organization from afar, you see how well they do things
here," he said. "It's a winning organization. They believe in winning,
they believe in competing.
"The most important thing that I love, that I've seen so far, is
everybody is all about the team. Everybody is going to do whatever they
do to help the team win. That's impressive, watching it from afar.
Everything when they guys come out and compete, hear them talking to
the media, hear guys talking in the weight room, everything is all
about the team."
Belichick said the first day in pads is the start of the evaluation
process of the bigger players on the team - the tacklers and blockers.
"It feels great," said veteran guard Logan Mankins, who spent much of
his morning dealing with Vince Wilfork on the other side of the line.
"Pretty tired right now but it's always nice to start playing real
football - to see where you're at where you need to go."
Wilfork stripped Stevan Ridley of the ball in a goal-line situation,
one of two fumbles by Ridley on the day. (Jerod Mayo snared the other
one out of the air), which led to some extra running for the back.
-- Tim Tebow was a bit better on Day 3 - hardly perfect, but better --
connecting on a pair of long touchdown passes.
-- Tom Brady had a pass intercepted by Kyle Arrington. Rookie
wide receiver Aaron Dobson had another strong day and fellow rookie
Josh Boyce made his first impression. . Actor Robert Duvall, who has
visited the Whitey Bulger murder trial, was at camp chatting with New
England owner Robert Kraft. Also spotted: former Pats Troy Brown and
Christian Fouria. . Belichick said defensive end Armond Armstead is on
the non-football illness list for something not related to previous
heart problems. . Linebacker Dane Fletcher, who missed all last season
with a knee injury, is on the field. "I don't think he's had any
physical limitations to what we've done," Belichick said. . The
quarterbacks have video cameras attached to their helmets, another
evaluation tool. "We'll take a look at it and see what we get out of
it," Belichick said. . Former linebacker Tedy Bruschi and retiring
broadcaster Gil Santos will enter the team's Hall of Fame before Monday
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