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Helu, Hankerson, Hurt Earn First NFL Starts

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Three Redskins rookies earned their first NFL starts in Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Running back Roy Helu, wide receiver Leonard Hankerson and offensive guard Maurice Hurt all started for the Redskins.

Call them the "H Troop," perhaps?

Helu, the Redskins' fourth-round draft pick last April, was a big part of the game plan. On the game's first play, he broke off a 16-yard run behind left tackle.

He finished with 10 carries for 41 yards and a franchise-record 14 receptions for 105 yards, but he also had a costly fumble late in the first half that led to a 49ers touchdown.

Helu replaced Ryan Torain as the Redskins' feature back in the game.

"Helu has the speed to make some big plays," head coach Mike Shanahan said. "We're going to have Ryan substitute for him when he gets tired. I think you can see Roy is a pretty good all-around back. He made some plays. Obviously I think he'd like to have that fumble back."

Hankerson, a third-round pick last April, posted four catches for 34 yards. He also grabbed a 3-yard pass for a 2-point conversion after a Redskins touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

Hankerson replaced Anthony Armstrong in the starting lineup.

"Hankerson has been practicing pretty well the last few weeks and we wanted to give him an opportunity," Shanahan said. "I think he's a difference-maker in this league. He has a chance to be an elite receiver.

"You can see it in practice – his ability to beat bump coverage one on one. I think down the road it will pay dividends for us."

Hurt, a seventh-rounder, started at left guard as part of an offensive line shuffling. Trent Williams returned from injury to start at left tackle and Will Montgomery shifted from left guard to center, his natural position.

"I was ready for the speed of the game," Hurt said. "Guys are pretty fast and strong in practice. The tempo was fast and it may have taken me a second to adjust to it, but I think I did okay."

Added Shanahan: "We thought Maurice did a good enough job to earn the position."

For Hurt, it was not only his first NFL start but also his first NFL action. He opened the season on the Redskins' practice squad and served as a backup the last two weeks.

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