Jets Insider.com had the pleasure to chat with rookie RB Leon Washington prior to practice on Wednesday. With Curtis Martin out of the lineup, Washington, a fourth round pick this past spring from Florida State, has made the most of his opportunity by rapidly moving up the depth chart and starting his first game last week against Miami. In six games, Washington has 217 yards rushing with a 4.3 yards per carry, which leads the team.
Depite being a rookie, Washington speaks like a man who has been in the league much longer.
JI: Describe your development from last year in college to now in the NFL:
WASHINGTON: “My main improvement has been in the middle part of the game, being diligent in the educational part by learning the game more. Also, obviously getting the opportunity to play more is the best way to get experience. I’ve also learned a lot on the professional level, handling myself as a NFL player on and off the field, which is important.”
JI: Being a back that was drafted in the middle rounds, do you feel like you have to prove something to your teammates and the public?
WASHINGTON: “My grandmother always told me that it’s one thing to prove things to everyone else but the most important thing is to prove it to yourself. I know my abilities and I’m never content or satisfied, I always stay positive and have a high standard for myself.”
JI: You obviously came from a big program at Florida State, since you became a pro, what has been your biggest surprise in the NFL?
WASHINGTON: “My biggest surprises were the speed in the NFL and also the attention to detail. The attention to detail is so pivotal compared to college. In college, you don’t worry about the small things. In the NFL, the attention to detail is critical.
JI: What players did you look up to coming up through high school and college?
WASHINGTON: “Marshal Faulk no doubt. In little league football I had #28 and wanted to be like Faulk at San Diego State and the Colts. I used to love the way he played the game from his running to catching the ball out of the backfield. He just did anything he could to help the team and that’s how I envisioned myself .”
JI: Have there been any players on the Jets who have mentored you or has been helpful to your development?
WASHINGTON: The most help I’ve received since I’ve been here has been from Curtins [Martin]. He’s helped me on and off the field. One of the things off the field has been how to be a professional and handle yourself in the correct manner, do the right things and stay positive. On the field he’s been very helpful with my blitz pickups and perfecting my runs. His help with my runs has been crucial. As you know, a young guy like me will try to use my instincts and just run. Curtis has taught me to be patient with my runs, see the hole and let your eyes do the run besides your legs.
JI: Leon, tell the fans some personal things about yourself that they may not know. What do you like to do when you are not playing football?
WASHINGTON: In my spare time I like to play cards and although I’m not really a video game addict, I love Tiger Woods Golf. Growing up in Florida, I do play regular golf as well, but am not that good. One thing that fans may not know is that off the field I’m a very approachable and humble guy. Anyone that meets me will find that I am a regular good guy.