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Saturday, November 6, 2010
Giants special teams out to stop Leon Washington

By Matt Ehalt

Tom Coughlin spared the media.

Had the Giants head coach decided to talk about the threat that that Seahawks running back/returner Leon Washington presents as a kick returner, he could've gone on for hours. Way past deadlines for stories.

So he instead just posed a question.

"His kickoff return average at home, do you know what it is?" Coughlin asked. "Forty-four yards. Kickoff return average at home."

Point taken.

The Giants have a huge task ahead of them Sunday in containing Washington in kickoff returns, as the shifty and elusive back leads the league in return yardage. Washington has a NFL best 33.7 yards kickoff return average, to go along with his two returns for touchdowns. He’s tied for second all-time in kickoff returns for touchdown.

“You want to keep him from affecting the change in the game,” Coughlin said. “Their offense has taken the ball over, I want to say, 10 times in plus territory this year and has scored five of those 10 times. They’ve benefited from outstanding field position, for sure.”

Traded to Seattle from the Jets in the offseason, Washington has been a huge asset for the Seahawks. His two touchdown returns almost single handedly won Seattle’s game against San Diego, and he now owns the top two spots for longest kickoff returns in Seattle history.

Linebacker Clint Sintim said that Washington is strong and fast and runs the ball hard, which becomes a tough combination to face. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul added that there is great blocking to complement Washington’s elusiveness.

“That’s going to be big for us, he’s actually going to test us,” Pierre-Paul said. “See if we can go down there and make tackles and see what our kickoff team is really about.”

Kicker Lawrence Tynes called Washington one of the best returners in the game and said he will have to pick and choose when the Giants kick to him. He also talked about mixing in kicks to try to neutralize the former Jet.

“Hitting short kicks, hitting line drives, hitting deep kicks, you have to keep him off balanced, keep the return team off balanced,” Tynes said. “Most of the time the call is made from the sidelines, so if you kind of disrupt what they are doing with the type of kick, you can eliminate him.”