- The Washington Times - Monday, October 24, 2011

Leonard Hankerson’s first NFL play had quarterback John Beck doing damage control on Monday morning.

The Washington Redskins‘ quarterback sought out reporters inside the Redskins Park locker room to assume blame for an interception on a pass he intended for the third-round rookie receiver.

Beck spoke for 4 1/2 minutes about Sunday’s loss to Carolina and his performance in the game before making a point to protect Hankerson from criticism that surfaced online about Hankerson’s role in the play.

It appeared Beck expected Hankerson to slow and turn his route into a back-shoulder fade. Hankerson kept running deep, and he wasn’t near Panthers cornerback Chris Gamble when Gamble intercepted the ball. Immediately after the play, Beck held his arms out and palms up, as if to ask Hankerson what happened.

After the game, coach Mike Shanahan said: “That last interception should’ve been a backside shoulder.” Beck called it a “miscommunication.”

Then on Sunday night, Hankerson engaged fans who criticized him on Twitter. “if u wasn’t in the #Huddle don’t tell me I ran the wrong #Route,” Hankerson wrote.

Beck on Monday tried to free Hankerson from the criticism.

“I just want to add one more thing, too, just because I kind of caught wind of what was going on,” he said as his interview neared its conclusion. “Hey, listen: The play with Hankerson, it’s on me. I’m the guy that’s got the ball in my hand. I’m the guy that makes the decision on where that ball goes.

“We were very excited to have Hankerson be a part of this football team. He’s going to be a great asset to this football team. Nothing goes on Hankerson. It all goes on me. You got that?”

Asked what he expected Hankerson to do on the play, Beck declined to elaborate.

“Done,” he said. “Thanks.”

Shanahan downplayed the significance of what he considers to be a learning experience.

“What John did is he threw the same ball to Hankerson that he did to [Jabar] Gaffney right at the end of the [first] half,” Shanahan said. “He kind of underthrew it for a reason because the corner was playing over the top. Obviously, Leonard thought a little bit differently, but that’s the nature of this game. That’s the growing pains that go on with a young player.”

Beck gets positive review

Shanahan seemed pleased by how Beck played in his first NFL start in four years.

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