Now eight months removed from surgery to repair a torn ACL and LCL in his left knee, Hankerson still has no idea when he’ll be medically cleared to rejoin his teammates on the practice field.
The wide receiver was placed on the physically-unable-to-perform list when training camp opened last Wednesday.
“I don’t know why they say seven to nine months, because seven is not the case at all,” Hankerson said, referring to his initial prognosis. “At seven months, I couldn’t even think about playing football. I could say right around nine to 11 months, because seven to nine months is not realistic at all.”
Hankerson, entering his fourth season, tore the ligaments in the Redskins‘ loss at Philadelphia on Nov. 17 and underwent surgery four days later. He finished the year with 30 catches for 375 yards and three touchdowns, starting seven of 10 games and playing approximately 57 percent of all offensive snaps until his injury.
The Redskins signed wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts during the offseason, and over the first five days of training camp, they’ve joined Pierre Garçon as the team’s top three receivers.
With new coach Jay Gruden also praising veteran Santana Moss and rookie Ryan Grant, it’s plausible Hankerson could see his role minimized when he’s able to return – especially if the Redskins keep only six receivers on their initial 53-man roster.
“That’s why every day is pretty much an interview, and I can’t do anything until I get out there,” Hankerson said. “My main thing right now is just to get back to 100 percent, and whenever I get back to 100 percent, I can focus on getting back [on the field] and making plays.”
Restricted to running routes on a side field and sprinting before or after practice, Hankerson doesn’t feel the need to hurry back to play in a preseason game.
He also doesn’t want to measure himself against other players who have returned from similar injuries, such as quarterback Robert Griffin III – who returned to practice at the start of training camp a year ago just six and a half months after surgery – or cornerback Richard Crawford, who needed almost 11 months after getting hurt last preseason.
“Everybody heals different. Everybody reacts different,” Hankerson said. “It’s just about staying patient and grinding with the rehab.”