Opposite Julio Jones, the Falcons coaches really like newcomer Leonard Hankerson based on his strong offseason. Hankerson played in Kyle Shanahan's system while in Washington and appears to be healthy coming off a gruesome left knee injury in 2013. But Hankerson's emergence doesn't necessarily move Roddy White aside. It simply means the veteran White has to have a strong training camp and show the left knee injury that has plagued him won't be a lingering issue.
It would be hard to imagine White accepting a reserve role after he established team records in both career receptions (765) and receiving yards (10,357) through 10 years with the franchise. Again, it will all depend on how White's body holds up throughout the season. He's been nagged by various ailments over the last two seasons, including hamstring and ankle problems to go with the knee. And White turns 34 in November.
This is the first that we've heard that Hankerson could potentially push White for a starting role. Frankly, we don't see a healthy White losing his spot. Last year, White missed a couple of games due to injury, but when he played, he was a solid WR2 in PPR formats (#17 PPR PPG). He’s 33, but as long as he stays healthy, he should be a very solid WR2/WR3.
The Atlanta Falcons have some intriguing options at wide receiver heading into 2015. This includes the obvious options of Julio Jones and Roddy White, but also Leonard Hankerson, Devin Hester and none other than rookie Justin Hardy. Hardy, for one, is a player who has massive upside and potential. Brian Jones of 247Sports is obviously a big believer in this, as he called Hardy the "secret weapon" for the Falcons.
"The answer is simple. It’s always good to have a plethora of weapons on offense, but Hardy is a weapon that no one will be talking about until the 2015 season gets rolling and makes plays. And the reason that Hardy will be a secret weapon is also simple. Hardy played at a smaller school (East Carolina), and he’s not the biggest receiver as he stands a shade over six-feet tall." Jones explained.
He continued by breaking down exactly what Hardy did during his career with the Pirates.
"But being overlooked is nothing new to Hardy. In fact, East Carolina did not offer him a scholarship his freshman year. He made his way on the team as a walk-on, but earned a scholarship the following season. From there, he became the NCAA’s career all-time reception leader, and was awarded the Burlsworth Trophy which is given to the most outstanding player who started his career as a walk-on." said Jones.
It's hard to argue with his point. Hardy has serious potential and the fact that he fell to the fourth-round in the 2015 NFL draft was a bit of a surprise to everyone. The Falcons nabbed the talented receiver and have to be happy about where they got him.
Hardy likely won't get drafted in typical leagues and he's way down our WR list. Jones and White are obviously the studs, but it's not out of the question Hardy could earn some playing by passing Hankerson and Hester on the depth chart. Right now he's just a name to keep in the back of your mind.
Third-round draft pick Justin Hardy has made a good first impression on some of his fellow skill position players. On Tuesday, Matt Ryan praised the WR for his consistent improvements; today, Julio Jones commended Hardy for the way he’s responded to challenges thrown his way.
Wednesday, March 11, 2015, 2:43pm
This is a bit of a surprise as we reported Helu as probable all week with a toe injury. This mean Chris Thompson will continue to get more looks. He impressed the coaches last week.
Sunday, November 23, 2014, 2:57pm
Tuesday, November 11, 2014, 10:46am
Hankerson will play his first game this season on Sunday, after missing the first nine thanks to ACL surgery last December. Now that he’s back, the Redskins have seven receivers (unless they opt to release one of them to make room for nose tackle Barry Cofield’s return this week).
And that means someone will get less playing time. Clearly it won’t be any of the top three wideouts -- DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon and Andre Roberts. It's hard to imagine much changing with how they've been used and how many targets they receive. If Hankerson is comfortable in the offense, he provides the Redskins a receiver who can run routes from various positions and, at 6-foot-2, he's also their tallest. His blocking isn’t bad, either.
It could be -- and should be, if he’s right -- that Hankerson plays ahead of Santana Moss and even Ryan Grant. It’s hard to see how Aldrick Robinson would be active with Hankerson around if he couldn’t be without him on the roster.
Tuesday, November 4, 2014, 7:26pm
The 6-foot-2 Hankerson provides the receiving corps with needed size and a player who can help at multiple spots. They've used him inside and outside in the past and he improved as a blocker, which helped the run game. He's coming off a torn ACL and subsequent surgery and is in the last year of his contract. Hankerson, a 2011 third-round choice, has 81 receptions in his first three years combined, with six touchdowns. He caught 30 passes in 10 games before getting hurt last season.
With Hankerson, the Redskins have seven receivers. Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts have combined for 103 catches and are firmly entrenched. They also have rookie Ryan Grant, who has five catches; Aldrick Robinson, who has one catch, and Santana Moss, who has none. Though Robinson has been inactive recently, they want to keep him around, in part because of his speed.
Saturday, October 25, 2014, 10:45am
Redskins wide receiver Leonard Hankerson is getting close to returning to the lineup, but he remains a “long shot” to play Monday night in Dallas, Coach Jay Gruden said.
“We have not made that decision yet,” Gruden said, referring to Hankerson’s timeline. “We’ve got a logjam at wide receiver.”
Hankerson started the season on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list while he continued to rehabbed from major knee surgery. The 25-year-old returned to practice on Oct. 15, opening a three week window for the Redskins to decide whether to activate him, place him on season-ending injured reserve or release him.
Based on Gruden’s comments, the Redskins intend to eventually activate Hankerson and cut another player to make room for him on the 53-man roster. The only question is when.
Hankerson has something no other receiver on the roster possesses: height. At 6-2, he’s two-inches taller than any other player at his position. Offensive coordinator Sean McVay said it’s only a matter of time before Hankerson rejoins the lineup. The story also said Hankerson will need some reps. It remains to be seen what kind of role he'll have, as he'll at least be fourth on the depth chart behind DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon and Andre Roberts, but could see some red zone work if the Skins plan to take advantage of his height.
Friday, August 15, 2014, 7:18pm
It still wouldn’t be surprising to see Redskins WR Leonard Hankerson (ACL) open the regular season on the PUP list. This is a crucial year for the receiver. He will be a free agent after this season. He understands the importance of not rushing back prematurely, because there’s so much at stake for both his immediate and long-term future.
Hankerson is doing some work at practice but isn't there yet.
Sunday, August 10, 2014, 3:45pm
Redskins wide receiver Leonard Hankerson continues to improve while recovering from last fall’s surgery to repair ligaments in his knee. He soon will meet with Dr. James Andrews to see if he’s ready to be cleared for practice.
Hankerson, entering his fourth season, is on the physically unable to perform list while he continues his rehabilitation.
Washington’s trainers and strength coaches have worked with the former third-round pick to help him improve his strength and explosiveness. Hankerson said during the first week of training camp that he could tell he hadn’t yet completely regained his speed.
Wednesday, July 23, 2014, 4:55pm
Tuesday, July 8, 2014, 10:41am
If Washington's WR Leonard Hankerson, a third-round pick in 2011, can make a full recovery, he presents a unique skill set. At 6 feet 2 and 211 pounds, he’s one of the biggest wide receivers on the roster. Only undrafted rookie Cody Hoffman is taller, at 6-4. Hankerson also has the ability to line up on the outside or in the slot.
But Hankerson also will be returning to a receiving unit that’s now more crowded and significantly improved. This offseason, Washington added speedster DeSean Jackson and slot receiver Andre Roberts. The Redskins also drafted Tulane’s Ryan Grant, and signed Hoffman, whom coaches have both praised this offseason.
Under Mike Shanahan, Hank was mostly used as a blocking receiver, so it's possible he could have more of an impact under Jay Gruden. However, he's yet to be cleared and could end up on the PUP list. Plus, he'll have to jump over some guys on the depth chart once he is healthy.
Friday, June 13, 2014, 12:20pm
“I’m feeling pretty good right now,” Hankerson said this week at Redskins Park. “I’ve been out here moving around a whole lot more. I’m seven months out now. So I’ve probably got another couple months to go. I should be good by training camp but you never know. Hopefully [there will be] no setbacks or nothing like that. But I’m feeling good right now.”
Hankerson’s anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments in his left knee were repaired after he was hurt during a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Wednesday, June 11, 2014, 8:13pm
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