A member of the Washington Redskins for his first four NFL seasons, Leonard Hankerson is now with the Atlanta Falcons and is off to a strong start in his new team.
The future looks bright for the Washington Redskins, especially at the wide receiver position as Ryan Grant, Jamison Crowder and Rashad Ross all look primed to have increased roles as the 2015 season progresses.
But there was a time that it appeared Leonard Hankerson was going to take on a prominent role in the Redskins' offense.
While the former University of Miami star flashed his abilities from time to time in D.C., sporadic performances and an ACL tear that removed him from the field for portions of the 2013 and 2014 seasons eventually meant new scenery.
Four games into the 2015 season, Hankerson, now a member of the Atlanta Falcons, is off to a solid start with 17 receptions for 241 yards and two touchdowns.
He'll definitely be a factor for the Redskins' defense on Sunday at the Georgia Dome.
"You watch him on film, and even when he was here, he's a guy who knows his route depth," said safety Trenton Robinson. "He works hard. You can't ask for more. If you throw him the ball he's probably going to catch it if he has a chance to catch it. You can't sleep on any receiver on their team, because they're all in the NFL and they're all playing at a high level right now."
Hankerson was part of a 2011 draft class that also included fellow wide receivers Aldrick Robinson and Niles Paul.
He didn't appear in the first half of games his rookie season, but did have one of the better performances of his career that year against the Miami Dolphins, recording eight receptions for 106 yards before suffering a subluxation of his right hip and a torn labrum.
Between that injury and the one he suffered during the 2013 season, Hankerson's time with the Redskins was mixed.
Redskins wide receiver Leonard Hankerson is entering his fourth year in the league in 2014.
But for first-year Falcons head coach Dan Quinn, especially in Kyle Shanahan's offense, Hankerson was worth taking a risk on in free agency.
"Every once in a while you get a chance to take a shot on somebody that has maybe been banged up," Quinn told the media this week. "I thought that was totally worth it with Hank here. I think it's the catching radius that he has. There could be a ball that's way up high, he can go up to get it, or it's out of bounds and he has the length to extend to go get it. He's been a real factor for us on third down as well. He's off to a great start with us. He worked extremely hard to come back, as you guys know, from all the injuries."
While Hankerson still has a lot of friends inside the Redskins' locker room, once the whistle blows on Sunday for the opening kickoff, he'll be treated just like any other opponent.
"[I'll] talk to those guys after the game, after all the dust settles," said tackle Trent Williams of the former members of the Redskins now with the Falcons. "Hopefully we can have a win and that will make everything feel a whole lot better."