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Hankerson Seizes Second Receiver Job


One of the best unnoticed storylines of training camp was the continued development of third-year wide receiver Leonard Hankerson, who challenged Joshua Morgan for the second receiver role.

Morgan got the opportunities last season, leading the team with 48 receptions and ending the year as one-of-four receivers north of 500 yards.

Head coach Mike Shanahan classified the competition as close, ultimately awarding Morgan the top spot on the team's depth chart heading into Week 1.

But it was Hankerson who got the opportunities with the return of Robert Griffin III, leading the team with 80 yards on five receptions and two touchdowns.

Hankerson parlayed that success into a strong start to the season, earning six starts in nine contests and making at least one reception in each game.

Through nine games, he is third on the team with 29 receptions for 370 yards and a share of the team lead in touchdowns with three.

On the Week 11 depth chart distributed by the team, Hankerson had officially leap-frogged Morgan as the team's top second receiver.

"It's more that Hankerson has been stepping it up so we've given Hank more reps," offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan explained. "It's something we said back in training camp – those guys have been competing since the start of OTAs this year through camp.

"We just felt on the practice field that Hank had been stepping it up so we've been giving him a few more opportunities, especially on third down and stuff – more passing situations – and that's how it's been.

"Still doesn't mean it's final. We evaluate everything every day and week-to-week and Hank has definitely earned more playing time as the time has gone on."

Morgan was the team's most utilized receiver last season, playing through injuries to his hands and feet and stepping up when Pierre Garcon was too injured to play.

For his part, he is keeping upbeat about the situation, despite having only 11 receptions for 124 yards and no scores.

"I know I didn't do anything to lose my job," he said, via "I come out here and work just as hard, if not harder, than anyone out here. I try to keep negative thoughts out my head.

"I just come out and play for my teammates, my family and for the love of the game, as I always do."

Head coach Mike Shanahan indicated last week that Hankerson's opportunities have increased not just for his production, but also his play when he doesn't get the ball.

"You see the catches – what we see is every play that he's in the game, both in the running game and the passing game," Shanahan explained. "If the quarterback did go to him, is he open?

"He stepped up and did a lot of good things that if the quarterback would have looked his way, would he have been open or not? The majority of the time he would have."

Hankerson is nursing a tweaked hamstring that has not limited him in practice this week.

He is coming off of one of his best performances of the season, matching his season high with five receptions vs. the Vikings, including a season-high 29-yard catch.

In three career games vs. Philadelphia, he has eight receptions for 120 yards and two scores, his highest production against any opponent.





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