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Sports

July 29, 2013

Washington wants to go beyond special teams

FOXBOROUGH (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 yesterday, 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 other players.”

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.”

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