RICHMOND—Redskins wide receiver Leonard Hankerson is eight months removed from having two ligaments repaired in his left knee and has recently begun to feel like himself again.
But he’s not there yet. And so he must watch from the sidelines as an intense training camp battle at wide receiver gets underway without him this week.
“I’m not worried about that,” Hankerson said at the Bon Secours Training Center. “I’ve been battling all my life. That’s how it is in the NFL. One day you can be the starter, the next day you got to go out and prove something.”
Hankerson’s career seemed to be on the upswing last season. The 25-year-old had leapfrogged Josh Morgan on the depth chart and was on pace for a career year. But then the oft-injured receiver tore the ACL and LCL in his knee against the Eagles in mid-November, ending his season.
In recent weeks, Hankerson has been ramping up the intensity of his workouts and has looked good running routes on his own. But he’s not ready to resume practicing with the team and, thus, opened camp on the physically unable to perform list.
He’s eligible to come off the PUP list at any time. But he said there’s no time frame for that.
“I’ve been running around pretty good, but I’m not quite there yet,” Hankerson said. “I’m not comfortable to where I can get out there and play and practice. I have to keep grinding with the rehab and getting stronger. Hopefully I’ll be better soon.”
He added: “I don’t know when. I guess it’s when I feel like I can go. I just have to stay patient with it.”
Hankerson is not wearing a brace on his knee, though he cautioned not to read too much into that.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a good sign,” he said. “But I haven’t been wearing the brace. The less you wear the brace, the more comfortable you can get, the more stuff you can do. The brace kind of restricts you a little bit.”
The current depth chart at wide receiver features Pierre Garçon, DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts as the undisputed top three. After that, it gets interesting.
Santana Moss, Aldrick Robinson, rookie Ryan Grant and a host of camp hopefuls are battling for the final three (maybe four) spots. Hankerson hopes to join that group soon. But first he’s got to get healthy.
“That’s the least of my worries,” Hankerson said of the competition. “My worry is just getting back healthy, getting back 100-percent. When I get to that point, then I can get out there and do something, show what I can do.”