Leon Washington was named offensive player of the week for his 129 yard rushing performance
In just seven professional games, New York Jets rookie Leon Washington has already eclipsed his rushing total when he was a senior at Florida State. Washington registered the third largest rush total ever by a Jets rookie in Sunday's win over the Lions, carrying 20 times for 129 yards and scoring his first two professional touchdowns. On Monday, Jets head coach Eric Mangini named Washington the club's Offensive Player of the Week.
"This feels pretty good. I haven't run over 100 yards in awhile," Washington said. "I don't think I did it my senior year in college. It feels pretty good to come out here and help the team out being the young guy. I am helping the team out the best I can, and I am trying to gain that confidence from the older guys, the coaches and the rest of my teammates."
The 5'8", 202-pound Washington has now accounted for two of the top nine rookie rush games in franchise history. Two weeks ago, Washington ran for 101 yards in a road game at Jacksonville.
"For me, the most impressive thing is his physicality," says veteran quarterback Chad Pennington of Washington. "People are learning about his speed, but he's very physical between the tackles. He doesn't go down with one defender; it takes multiple defenders to take him down. He bounces off of tackles; he's a very physical person even though his size wouldn't make you think that."
Following Sunday's win, Washington credited Curtis Martin for some helpful advice. Martin, a future Hall of Famer who is on the club's Physically Unable to Perform (PUP), told the Jacksonville, Florida native to stay more patient with his runs. Washington listened and now is the club's leading rusher with 346 yards, averaging 4.9 yards per attempt.
"The most helpful thing Curtis Martin has showed me or told me is basically being more patient with my runners," Washington said. "When I first got here I was running the ball and I was ready to bounce outside. This is the National Football League and guys are too fast. Each week I am improving on my inside runs and being able to read my blocks and make the correct cuts."
Washington, the 117th selection in the draft, was a fourth round pick originally obtained from Kansas City in exchange for permission to hire coach Herman Edwards. He is the 28th leading rusher in the league after carrying the ball only eight times during the first three weeks of the season.
"If I can run in-between tackles and they ask me to do that, I will do it," Washington said. "If they tell me to run outside I will do it. Like I alluded to earlier, our offensive line did a good job blocking upfront. They were holding in there and did a tremendous job. I just ran hard and played hard today and we came out with a big win."
Also coming up big for the Jets on Sunday was defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson. The 6'1", 317-pound fourth-year lineman was a disruptive force against the Lions, racking up five tackles, one sack and one forced fumble. Robertson earned Defensive Player of the Week honors for his efforts.
"He's had some good weeks here. He just has kind of missed that top spot each time," Mangini said of Robertson. "Dewayne's focused on technique. He is a powerful guy, he is a strong guy, he has good quickness, and he's marrying that with good hand placement, good footwork and all that natural ability. You combine that with the technique work that he's doing and it's making him more and more productive each week."
Second-year safety Kerry Rhodes was tabbed Mangini's Special Teams Player of the Week. Rhodes, a starting safety who grabbed a fantastic interception in the second quarter, also recorded two special teams stops. Kickoff return specialist Eddie Drummond was limited to just a 20.6-yard average on his five returns by Rhodes and company.
Rounding out the award winners this week was rookie Jamie Thompson, a member of the Green & White's practice squad who was named the Practice Player of the Week. Thompson, a three-year letterman at Oklahoma State, registered 181 tackles and 7.5 sacks with the Cowboys.