MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Despite the loss, Leonard Hankerson will always remember Sunday's game.
The rookie didn't just post a career high in receptions and receiving yards against the Miami Dolphins, but he also returned home for the first time since being selected by the Washington Redskins in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft.
"It was very special to go out there and play in front of my family in the stadium that I've been playing in for the last three years," Hankerson said. "It was special to have my family come out there and see me."
The Fort Lauderdale native, who spent four years at the University of Miami, had about 50 of his closest friends and family members scattered around Sun Life Stadium during Sunday's 20-9 loss to the Dolphins.
Hankerson treated them to quite the performance.
In his second career start, he led the Redskins with eight catches for 106 yards before leaving because of a right hip strain late in the fourth quarter. After the game, he said his hip was "a little sore," and he didn't know if it would force him to miss any time.
However, he was on the field just long enough to become the first Redskins rookie wide receiver to accumulate more than 100 receiving yards in a game since Rod Gardner did it on Oct. 21, 2001.
"It just felt good to contribute to the team and know that I'm capable of making plays," Hankerson said.
Two of the most impressive aspects of Hankerson's performance are that his eight catches came on just nine chances, and he accounted for nearly 50 percent of Washington's passing offense.
These types of stats wouldn't have been possible for him earlier in the season, as he struggled to find playing time. But after impressing teammates and coaches in practice over the past couple of weeks, Hankerson has found a spot in Washington's offense.
After not seeing the field in the Redskins' first five games of the year, the 6-foot-2 wide receiver has caught at least one pass in the past three contests and made his first career start last Sunday against San Francisco.
"[My comfort level in the offense is] growing a whole lot," he said, "because, being on scout team and then going to get reps with the first-team offense, it's helping me get more confidence to go out there and do what I have to do."