Pete Carroll: ‘Hate to move on’ without Leon Washington

Former Patriots coach Pete Carroll is now enjoying success in Seattle, and drew a good-sized crowd at the NFC coaches breakfast on Wednesday morning.

He was asked about kickoff returner/running back Leon Washington, who had spent the last three seasons with the Seahawks before signing a one-year deal last week to join the Patriots.

“He’s an amazing kid; a great, competitive kid. Loved him on our team. He was a big factor, and we hated to have to move on without him,” Carroll said. “The Patriots are getting a guy who’s there every minute. He’s a great practice player, very savvy game player, very determined to prove himself, which is what you love about him.

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“He has tons of skills. He’s an exciting returner who takes the special teams aspect as seriously as it’s ever been taken. He’s one of the all-time greats. They get a fantastic football player, and he can play from the line of scrimmage, too – catch the football out of the backfield. He’s very elusive, a tough blocker. He’s a complete football player.”

Washington played only sparingly on offense in 2012, with 23 rushing attempts for 83 yards and a touchdown and four receptions for 31 yards. In 2011, he recorded 53 carries and 10 catches.

But Washington has long been one of the best kickoff returners in the NFL, and last season averaged 29 yards on 27 attempts, with one touchdown.