Second-year wide receiver Leonard Hankerson came away from Thursday’s preseason opener at Buffalo with a sense of encouragement as he works his way back from a season-ending hip injury.
Thursday’s game represented the first game that Hankerson has played in since Week 9 of the 2011 season. Hankerson, who is competing for the starting wide receiver position opposite Pierre Garcon, got the start and had one reception for 12 yards — the only play in which he was targeted.
Hankerson and his fellow starters played only 14 snaps, but the activity was enough to indicate to the receiver that he is making progress in his recovery.
“It felt good to be back out there with my teammates,” Hankerson said Saturday after practice. “Going on the right track. Feeling good. Making plays.”
The last time Redskins fans saw Hankerson in a game, he caught eight passes for 106 yards in a loss last season to Miami, a breakout performance in the city where he went to college.
The outing has tantalized ever since. Hankerson tore the labrum in his hip that game and did not return until the preseason opener at Buffalo.
Redskins fans might reference Hankerson’s memorable outing from last season, but he does not.
“Honestly, I haven’t really thought about that Miami game until you brought it up,” Hankerson said. “I can’t be thinking about it. It doesn’t count now. It’s all gone. So I’ll just have to work on getting another one of those games this year.”
The 6-foot-2, 211-pound Hankerson struggled with dropped passes at times last season as a third-round pick out of Miami and did not play until the seventh game. Because of the hip injury, he not only sat out the rest of last season but also organized training activities and minicamp this year.
At Buffalo, Hankerson caught a sideline pass from Griffin, kept his balance as he slipped a defender, then picked up another 10 yards.
Did he feel like the old Leonard?
“I want to be better than the old Leonard,” Hankerson said. “That’s what I’m striving for.”