Leonard Hankerson: ‘I feel like I’m close’ to returning after knee surgery

Long after practice had ended Friday morning, Leonard Hankerson and Kirk Cousins walked to the far end of the main practice field at Redskins Park.

Cousins removed his helmet and grabbed a ball. And Hankerson, nearly nine months removed from left knee surgery, ran routes and caught passes from the backup quarterback for about 20 minutes.

The extra session marked a small but significant step in Hankerson’s rehabilitation process. The wide receiver, who is on the physically-unable-to-perform list, said it was the most substantial work he’s done since tearing the ACL and LCL in his left knee Nov. 17.

“I feel like I’m close,” Hankerson said. “It’s coming along, it’s coming along well. I just got to keep grinding, keep listening to the coaches, my strength and conditioning coach, doing what he’s telling me to do. And when he gives me the thumbs up, I’ll be ready to go.”

Hankerson spent all of training camp working on an auxiliary field, running routes and participating in agility drills. On Friday, he was running routes at nearly full speed.

As he enters his fourth season in the NFL, Hankerson said he is waiting to see orthopedic surgeon James Andrews and hopes to then be cleared to return to practice. However, he does not know when that meeting will occur.

“I’m still grinding right now,” Hankerson said, “and whenever they tell me that he’s available or he’s coming up or whatever, that’s when I’ll see him.”

While Hankerson has been relegated to the sidelines, a number of wide receivers have made the most of their opportunities in camp. Rookie Ryan Grant has drawn praise from the coaching staff for his crisp route-running ability. Aldrick Robinson has shown his speed down the field and improvement on intermediate routes.

If Grant, Robinson and veteran Santana Moss solidify their spots on the roster alongside DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon and Andre Roberts, Hankerson could be the odd man out. But he said that won’t push him to rush back to the field more quickly.

“That’s not a thought at all,” he said. “I mean, I went to the University of Miami. I always had guys come in every year. That’s part of your job. No matter what type of job you have. Somebody’s coming for your job. Somebody’s coming for my job. That’s just the nature of the game. I can’t worry about what’s going on when I’m not there. I just got to worry about what I can control and right now, that’s rehab.”

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