By Brady Henderson
Along with hitting three field goals of 48 yards or longer, Rams rookie Greg Zuerlein booted four of his five kickoffs for touchbacks in Sunday’s win over the Seahawks.
The one kickoff he didn’t get all of was returned 69 yards by Leon Washington.
That’s been the story so far for Washington, who has returned just seven kickoffs this season but has the Seahawks leading the NFL – by far – with a 37.7-yard average. Only three other teams have an average of at least 30: Atlanta (31.0), San Francisco (30.4) and Minnesota (30.1).
Washington’s strong start has been especially important to a Seahawks offense that has struggled to move the ball.
His 69-yard return on Sunday came as Seattle trailed 16-7 in the third quarter. That didn’t turn into points, though, as Russell Wilson was intercepted on the second play of the drive. The Seahawks had only mustered three points in the third quarter of the season opener when Washington gave them excellent field position with an 83-yard return that set up their only touchdown.
The emergence rookie Robert Turbin figures to diminish Washington’s role in the backfield. He has just eight carries this season, including one on Sunday. He may not get many chances to return kickoffs, either, with Seattle’s defense giving up only 14.5 points per game.
But with an offense that has plenty of limitations, Washington will have to continue to do what he’s done so far: make the most of limited opportunities.
Note: Washington joined “The Kevin Calabro Show” on Monday and talked about the art of returning kicks, among other topics. You can listen to that interview here.