“To be honest, I wanted to cry but I couldn’t,” Washington said. “To be honest with you, I was shocked because coming from Samford – FCS – the guys are sleeping through the conference. But we’re playing like everyone else. I’m excited. I’m at a loss for words. I’m still shaking a bit. bit. I’m just happy to have this opportunity. I’m going to make the most of it, for sure.”
Washington said he thinks it’s unlikely he got there without his performance in the game against Florida, and the Broncos hope he can recreate those kinds of feats in the NFL.
There are good reasons to believe that might be the case; Washington has returned three punts or kicks for touchdowns in 2021.
“Being back and catching those punts, catching those kickoffs and having all those guys running at you – that’s a very unique talent,” said head coach Nathaniel Hackett. “It’s hard to find guys like that. I think it’s something to have experience in special teams in my past and to know [Special Teams] Coach [Dwayne] Stukes, it was so important for our team to find someone who could bring that.”
The search for a return specialist will bring open competition in the offseason. But the Broncos said they wouldn’t limit him to that role.
“We just thought he had dynamic traits as a return man – as a receiver as well,” Paton said. “He’s a slot receiver. He’s really good with the ball in his hands. He’s got amazing ball skills. As a punt returner, as a kick returner, Coach Stukes thought he would be our guy. We’ll see. He’s got to go win there. He’s got some dynamic traits that you can’t teach. We think he’ll improve us there.
As a player who watched the classic highlight reels Devin Hester produced during his career, Washington wants to create these game-changing plays in the NFL, to “do my job as a back man and flip the pitch.”
“There’s nothing like that feeling because – yes, I scored, but in my opinion, I don’t score; my team scores,” Washington said. “Guys who block for me have to block. They have to risk their bodies to just block. Little things – some guys look over it. Me as a returner means the most to me. If they do big blocks that means I gotta score If they do a good block I gotta score It’s my job to shoot if it’s their job to block If they do the hard work my job should be easy. All I have to do is run. I’m going to make the most of it for my guys.