Dwayne Washington has his money on Dwayne Washington.
Whatever the odds may be, stacked against or stacked in favor, the New Orleans Saints running back is of the mind that he’ll make his own fortune. So 10 days and eight practices into his first training camp with the Saints, with one back (Alvin Kamara) solidly entrenched and another (Latavius Murray) a notable free agent signee, Washington still feels he can create his niche with the back-to-back NFC South Division champs.
“I’m going to always bet on myself,” said Washington, who’s entering his fourth NFL season. He spent his first two seasons with the Lions, was released by them after training camp last year, and joined the Saints a day later before being promoted to the active roster and playing in 13 games.
“But at the end of the day, I’ve just got to keep on working,” he said Saturday, Aug. 3. “Coaches say this and say that, but at the end of the day, I’ve just got to keep on working and keep my head in the books, give them something to talk about every day.”
In training camp, they’ve been able to talk about a handful of explosive runs by Washington.
As a Saint, he made an impression last season mainly on special teams. His most extensive action at running back came in the regular-season finale against Carolina, and he ran for a career-high 108 yards on 11 carries. But special teams (two tackles and a blocked punt recovery) kept him active and viable in 2018.
“I would say his versatility more so in the kicking game as a cover player, as a four-core player, more than a kick returner,” Coach Sean Payton said.
Still, Washington showed against the Panthers his ability to contribute offensively.
“That’s something that helped him a year ago with us that he was going to the games (active), he was someone that could play at the running back position, but when he wasn't, he was getting snaps on all the (special team) units,” Payton said.
The Panthers game confirmed for Washington what he already believed, and gave him incentive to continue improving.
“My confidence level is always up,” he said. “But I felt like (the Carolina game) just gave me a bigger chip on my shoulder to come back this year and show that I can keep doing those things."
And one of the best assists for that is the fact that Washington was able to participate in the offseason program and now, in training camp, after having been exposed to the offense.
“I feel like I’m fitting in pretty well,” he said. “There’s new guys here, so I’m trying to learn all these guys that are on the team. But other than that, I think that I’m pretty good with the system, I feel like I’m getting more comfortable as the days go on and I’ve just got to keep on working.
“Last year, I came in pretty late, in terms of not going through OTAs and camp. But I feel more comfortable with the system. I feel like the game is slowing down for me and I feel like I’m starting to pick up things.”