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NFL Washington Redskins

Emergence of Leonard Hankerson Huge for Washington Redskins

Emergence of Leonard Hankerson Huge for Washington Redskins

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

After Leonard Hankerson’s breakout season in 2012, the Washington Redskins were hopeful that the wide receiver could become a legitimate threat in the offense. Through the first four games of the 2013 NFL season, it is clear that Hankerson’s emergence could be the difference in the Redskins winning the NFC East or missing the playoffs completely.

“He has had a mindset since minicamp where he is attacking the football,” wide receivers coach Mike McDaniel said, according to Redskins.com. “He has gigantic hands, 10.5-inch hands. When you combine that with an aggressive mentality, he has caught the ball the best since he started here.

“He has been more focused on attacking the ball and it has paid dividends.”

The fact that Hankerson has found ways to get open and then capitalize when the ball is thrown his way has been huge. Obviously, defenses go into games against the Redskins focused on wide receivers Pierre Garcon and Santana Moss. That has allowed Hankerson to fly under the radar a bit and make big plays. Going forward this season it will not be as easy considering he has become an asset for the offense. The good news is he is talented enough where it will not matter if the defense is paying attention to him or not.

“He has been doing a great job, he made an outstanding third-down conversion for us this past week,” McDaniel told Redskins.com. “That can be attributed to his instincts, feel and game preparation. The moment is not too big for him.

“We expect great things from him and even more growth because his ceiling, he hasn’t even grasped yet.”

Hankerson has established himself as a security blanket for quarterback Robert Griffin III when it comes to converting a first down. Of his 15 receptions this season, 10 of them have gone for first downs. That is a huge statistic for a young player. The 24-year-old also has recorded 185 receiving yards and two touchdowns this season.