RICHMOND – Wide receiver Leonard Hankerson has received clearance to run, but he is not yet ready to return from knee surgery. Hankerson said he will not rush back and will not allow himself to worry about a return date.
“Obviously, I can move around. I can run,” Hankerson said. “I’m not sure how fast I can run, but I can run. It’s about having some confidence in it, about being around 95 to 100 percent. I don’t have the explosion yet. I come out here, I line up and run routes and it’s not explosive. So, I know there’s no reason to go out there yet. I’d probably just go out there and embarrass myself or something like that.”
Hankerson, who will enter his fourth season out of Florida, tore the anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments in his left knee last fall and had surgery to repair them late in November.
He is now in the eighth month of his recovery. Earlier this offseason, he said he hoped to return to action by the start of training camp. But he has yet to receive clearance to do so, and instead opened training camp on the physically unable to perform list.
“I’m good, man. Just grinding. Nobody said it’d be easy,” he said. “They say seven to nine months, but it’s more like nine-plus months. So, I’m just doing what I’ve got to do and keeping a mind-set and just grinding. … I know I feel better than I did Monday. I know I feel better than I did Tuesday. … I just have to keep being patient.”
Once healthy, Hankerson will find himself in competition for a spot at a crowded wide receiver position.
Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts are locked in as the top three threats. That leaves Santana Moss, Aldrick Robinson, Cody Hoffman, Nick Williams, Ryan Grant, Rashad Lawrence, Lee Doss, Rashad Ross, Jerry Rice Jr. and Hankerson to vie for the final two or three roster spots.
Hankerson said that despite the circumstances, he knows he can’t rush himself back.
“It’s more than just getting out there and making a play and helping the team. It’s my career,” Hankerson said. “Maybe I would get out there, and maybe it’s not [strong enough], and maybe I’d get hurt, or maybe I’d not look too good and get cut. It’s bigger than getting out there and having fun. It’s better to be sure than going out there and trying because I’m worried about getting bumped and limping every day after practice.”
Hankerson added that although he’d like to return as soon as possible, he doesn’t feel the need to return for the sake of playing in the preseason.
“My health is more important than the preseason,” he said. “Preseason? What you playing for in the preseason? Nothing. Nothing. Yeah, helping guys get better and stuff like that. But I’d rather be 100 percent before I touch the field.”