When Redskins receiver Leonard Hankerson earned his start against the Dolphins in Week 10 of last season, it was the culmination of weeks and years of hard work.
Hankerson was born just minutes from Sun Life Stadium, and was a star at the University of Miami. After struggling through his rookie preseason, Hankerson was posed the challenge of earning his playing time--a task that he readily accepted.
For the first time as a pro Hankerson was a star, catching eight passes for 106 yards. It was fitting that his breakout performance in the NFL came in the same city where he earned his stripes as an amateur.
But his tremendous performance was over-shadowed by disappointment. With 4:18 left in the game, Hankerson hauled in a 9-yard pass from Rex Grossman, before being hit by Dolphins safety Reshad Jones.
Hankerson crumpled on the play, and needed assistance coming off the field. The diagnosis was a torn hip labrum, ending Hankerson's rookie campaign.
Months later, Hankerson finally has his feet back under him, and feels healthy headed into training camp.
"It feels pretty good right now," he reported after morning walk through. "We're just going to take it step-by-step to see how it goes. Hopefully it holds up."
For the final seven weeks of the season, as well as most of the offseason, Hankerson worked closely with the Redskins training staff to prepare him for 2012.
The arduous rehab program was a new experience for Hankerson, who had never had missed significant playing time.
"Through college and high school, I didn't really have any major injuries or anything like that," he said. "It's all good, it's over now. I'm looking forward to getting back on the field with the players, making plays, and having fun."
Hankerson said that the coaches and trainers will monitor his progress, and take it as a day-by-day process.
As far as he is concerned, he's just happy to be back on the field.
"It's fun, and it can be exciting," he said. "Being around here for a whole year, talking to the coaches, knowing what they expect, knowing what I did wrong--I know what to do and what not to do again.
"I'm prepared to work and just have fun competing with the guys."