Several young Redskins saw significant action Sunday against the Panthers. In addition to center Erik Cook getting his first career start, rookie DeJon Gomes saw his first action at safety, rookie Niles Paul notched his first two career catches and rookie Leonard Hankerson was active for the first time of his career.
For Hankerson, it wasn’t a particularly memorable debut. Hankerson got on the field for one play – in the final three minutes of the game – but had a miscommunication with quarterback John Beck on the route he was supposed to run.
Beck fired the ball toward the right sideline as if he were expecting Hankerson to come back for the ball, but the rookie never turned around, and cornerback Chris Gamble intercepted the pass. It was Beck’s lone interception on the day.
“I don’t know what to say about it,” Hankerson said.
Said Beck: “When Hank came in, we felt good about trying to get a chunk play with him, if it was there. We just weren’t on the same page there. Maybe if we had been on the same page, something could’ve happened. I might have maybe not needed at that moment to try that. Hindsight, you can always say the ‘what ifs’ or the ‘should’ve would’ves.’ Hank came in and he and I weren’t on the same page, that was the ultimate thing.”
Drafted in the third round out of Miami, the 6-foot-2, 209-pound Hankerson is Washington’s biggest target, but he had struggled with drops during the preseason, and still had significant portions of the offense to learn, according to his coaches.
Hankerson, who in four preseason games recorded nine catches for 101 yards with a long of 25, got the nod on Sunday over veteran Donte Stallworth, who this season has appeared in three games, recording five catches for 46 yards.