After watching Leon Washington return kicks here against the Eagles as well as perform on the specialty unit throughout training camp it’s pretty safe to say the Patriots no longer will be among the worst kick returning teams in the NFL.

Some might have wondered if at age 30 Washington still has the kind of quickness and explosion needed to be an effective returner. While he doesn’t blow you away with his speed as Olympic track star Jeff Demps did during his training camp cameo last year Washington is plenty fast enough.

Plus he has a great feel for creases and tiny openings. The veteran returner should make Tom Brady much happier when it comes to field position for the offense.

Washington who had the second-best return average (29.0 yards) in the NFL last season while playing for Seattle should make life a little easier for the special teams units.

There’s just a completely different feel and look when he brings the ball out.

“The number one thing with Leon is his experience” special teams captain Matthew Slater said yesterday. “He knows what he’s doing back there. He’s very detail-oriented the way he dissects his craft. It’s really a discipline what he has and he’s mastered that discipline and he continues to hone it. . . . Hopefully he can give us a big boost. That’s an area we need to improve and hopefully we can get it done.”

Washington said there essentially are three areas that give him an advantage on most returners. First he’s fearless. That was a quality that made Ellis Hobbs one of the best at the job while he was with the Pats. Second he trusts the scheme. Third he’s a running back and knows how to set up and read blocks.

Then you add his experience. He’s been returning kicks since he was 10.

“For me I’ve seen tons and tons and tons of kicks and tons and tons and tons of visualizing concepts of what will happen when I get there” Washington said after a joint practice with the Eagles. “So I’ve been doing it a long time.”