Leonard Hankerson, on PUP list, is trying to remain patient

Leonard Hankerson

Leonard Hankerson is knocked out of bounds at the 4-yard line on a Redskins touchdown drive last season against the Bears. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Wide receiver Leonard Hankerson said that he felt like he could’ve opened the regular season on the active roster if the team had let him. The Redskins instead opted to place the fourth-year pass catcher on the regular season physically unable to perform list. And so, Hankerson says he will continue working, with the goal of returning to the field in Week 7.

Hankerson last November tore both the anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments in his left knee. He spent the offseason and all of training camp and the preseason rehabilitating, but didn’t practice with the team while on the PUP list.

Hankerson had hoped to come off the PUP list late in the preseason and prove himself capable of playing at a high level in time to earn a roster spot for the regular season. But he said on Wednesday that orthopedist James Andrews, who conducted the surgery on his knee, recommended the team wait longer to activate him.

Since Redskins brass placed him on the regular-season PUP list, Hankerson said he will just keep working to further strengthen his surgically repaired knee. Because he’s on the PUP list, Hankerson is not eligible to return to action, even in a practice capacity, until after Week 6.

“Obviously, I would like to be playing. I didn’t feel like I would be rushing myself back too soon,” said Hankerson, who last season started seven of the 10 games he played in, recording 30 catches for 375 yards and three touchdowns. “Ultimately, it was up to them – up to Dr. Andrews, up to the training staff and the coaches – on what they wanted to do. Dr. Andrews is the guru on this. He recommended it.”

Hankerson has been running full speed since the first week of August. Each day, while his teammates practice, he works with the strength and conditioning coaches to improve his speed, quickness and mobility.

But he said Andrews’s preference not to clear him at the start of the regular season centered around concerns that Hankerson’s LCL may not have strengthened to the point to give him the needed stability required to quickly change directions.

“Being that I’m at the position of receiver, with the LCL and no knee brace, he didn’t want me to risk anything,” Hankerson said.

Hankerson said he had mixed feelings about the decision, but says ultimately, he knows that it was made because Andrews and the team want the best for him.

“They could’ve just turned me out there or rushed me out there,” Hankerson said. “I just have to keep grinding. I’ve been working hard, so, another six weeks.”

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