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Hankerson Returns to Miami As a Starter


Rookie wide receiver Leonard Hankerson makes his second NFL start this Sunday when the Redskins travel to Miami to take on the Dolphins.

Hankerson started in his first NFL game last Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, and he pulled in four catches for 34 yards.

Now that Hankerson has the first game jitters out of the way, he hopes to build off of the experience and keep improving.

"I had four catches in the game, but now I just have to keep it going," he said. "I need to prepare this week in practice, and just keep doing the little things and keep getting better."

While his first start was no doubt a memorable one for Hankerson, this Sunday's game vs. Miami will have a more special meaning.

Hankerson is heading back to his hometown.

"I have a whole lot of family down in Miami, I'm from Fort Lauderdale so everybody is looking forward to coming to the game and watching me play," Hankerson said. "For some, it will be their first time watching me play, but my mom has been coming up here. It's going to be a lot of fun."

He added: "It's perfect timing, getting a chance to go down there and start in front of my home crowd. Now everybody is calling wanting to get a ticket. It's going to be fun."

Exactly how many tickets?

"Fifty," he said "It's family, so I don't mind."

The Redskins drafted Hankerson in the third round (79th overall) of last April's NFL Draft. He has been on the 53-man roster all season, but he wasn't activated for his first game until the Redskins played the Carolina Panthers in Week 7.

Hankerson was plagued by dropped passes in training camp and preseason, but he attributed that to nerves.

"I was anxious and I just wanted to make a big play every time I touched the ball," he said.

The last few weeks, Hankerson's hard work in practices and his willingness to learn from veterans really caught the eye of Redskins coaches.

"He understood, just seeing the process of Santana [Moss] and Jabar [Gaffney] and how they go about each week day-in and day-out being a pro," McCardell said. "He has done that and you see the results. He's actually playing well."

Head coach Mike Shanahan said Hankerson has the potential to be a game-changing receiver.

"I think he can be a difference-maker in this league," Shanahan said. "He has a chance to be an elite receiver. I think down the road he will pay dividends for us."

Hankerson said he is just focused on continuing to work hard and doing what he can to contribute.

"It's just a matter of preparing, listening to your coaches, doing the things that it takes," Hankerson. "Like coach said, keep building on what you have."

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