Returns always were Leon Washington’s specialty.
Now, Washington is returning to the Jets, hired Wednesday as an assistant special teams coach after spending the past three seasons in fellowship programs aimed at developing minority coaches with the Falcons, Jaguars and Lions.
Drafted by the Jets in 2006, Washington made the first of his two Pro Bowls and his only First-Team All-Pro team with the Jets. He holds franchise records for kickoff return touchdowns (four) — including a single-season record (three) in 2007 — and most all-purpose yards in a season (2,337).
Washington led the Jets in rushing as a rookie and was voted Team MVP in 2007 before settling into a complementary role to running back Thomas Jones over the next two seasons. He retired after the 2014 season, following stops with the Seahawks, Titans and Patriots.
Fifteen of Washington’s 20 career touchdowns from scrimmage came with the Jets, with which he rushed for 1,782 yards and an average of 4.8 yards per attempt, and caught 123 passes for 969 yards.
Washington, 38, helped out on offense, special teams and in the weight room as a participant in the William Clay Ford Minority Coaching Assistantship Program with the Lions. He tried to impart his knowledge of reading kickers and punters, the art of pass protection and how to run routes out of the backfield.
The Jets ranked No. 19 in average yards per punt return and No. 28 in average yards per kickoff return last season. New head coach Robert Saleh retained special teams coordinator Brant Boyer, who was first brought to the organization by Todd Bowles.