By Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir
20 questions in 20 days
As we count down to the first game of the Redskins’ season, Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler are going to be looking at some of the big questions facing the team and attempting to look into their crystal balls and answer them.
Question 13: Will Leonard Hankerson have a breakout season?
The background: The Redskins thought they got a steal when they took Hankerson in the third round in 2011. Early in the year it looked like they may have been too high on the Miami product as he struggled with drops. But when he finally got his chance to be in a featured role in the offense he produced, catching eight passes for 106 yards against the Dolphins in Week 10. That turned out to be his last game of the season, however, as he suffered a hip injury and went on injured reserve. Injury rehab had him sidelined for most of OTA’s and minicamp but he appears to be fully healthy and ready to go.
Tandler: When the Redskins signed Pierre Garçon and Josh Morgan in free agency, it looked like they were hedging their bets on Hankerson’s health. But with Hankerson healthy the Redskins could have a quartet of potent weapons at receiver with Garçon, Morgan, Hankerson, and Santana Moss. Hankerson could emerge as a dual threat receiver in this group with the ability to move the chains on third and five and to get open deep. That could make him one of Robert Griffin III’s best friends and that could add up to a Hankerson stat line of 60 catches for 850 yards and six touchdowns. That would constitute a breakout season in my book.
El-Bashir: I like Hankerson’s chances of enjoying a breakout season. First, the 23-year-old appears fully recovered from offseason hip surgery. Second, he finally seems comfortable in Coach Mike Shanahan’s offense, one season after he occasionally looked lost in it. And third, it’s possible he’ll find himself matched against weaker defensive backs as opposing teams look to shut down Robert Griffin III’s favorite target, Pierre Garçon. I also like Hankerson’s size. At 6 foot 2, 211-pounds, he‘s the Redskins‘ biggest receiver. Now, he just needs to prove he’s gotten over last season’s maddening case of the drops. Fifty-plus receptions, 700 yards and five touchdowns would constitute a successful season, I think.
20 questions in 20 days
Aug.20—Will Jammal Brown play this year?
#19 Aug.21—Will Chris Cooley make the team?
#18 Aug. 22—Can Brandon Meriweather get he job done at safety?
#17 Aug. 23—Is Garçon a No. 1 receiver?
#16 Aug. 24—Can Trent Williams go from good to great?
#15 Aug. 25—Can DeAngelo Hall be a defensive playmaker?
#14 Aug. 26—Can Santana Moss regain his old form?
#13 Yesterday—Can Orakpo post 15 sacks?
#12 Today—Will Leonard Hankerson break out?
#11 Tomorrow—Can the Redskins flip their turnover ratio?
#10 Thursday—How much can Hightower contribute this year?