- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

After spending the first six weeks rehabilitating from injury on a separate field, Washington Redskins wide receiver Leonard Hankerson and defensive end Stephen Bowen returned to practice on Wednesday.

The two players were placed on the physically-unable-to-perform list at the start of training camp and remained on the list when the initial 53-man roster was finalized during the last weekend of August. By rule, neither was allowed to practice with the rest of their teammates until a day after the final Week 6 game.

“These six weeks, they flew by,” Hankerson said Wednesday, roughly an hour before practice was set to begin. “I’ve been working pretty hard. I feel like I’m ready to go right now.”

Hankerson tore the ACL and LCL in his left knee in the Redskins‘ loss to San Francisco on Nov. 17 and underwent surgery to repair the ligaments four days later.

Bowen tore the PCL in his right knee in the Redskins‘ victory over Chicago last Oct. 20 and, though he tried to play through the injury, continued to experience swelling and discomfort. An MRI later revealed that he had torn cartilage in the knee, and he underwent microfracture surgery on Dec. 3 to repair it.

“It’s been hard. It’s been frustrating. But it’s over now,” Bowen said. “I just had to be patient, and I’m just happy to be a part of the team again.”

The Redskins now have 21 days to make a decision on Bowen and Hankerson. They could activate the two players, keep them on the PUP list — which would mean their seasons would be over — or they could cut them. They do not have to make a corresponding roster move until then.

“I think they’re both on track,” said coach Jay Gruden. “They both looked good. obviously, stamina will be an issue. We’ll see how they do getting more reps throughout the week, but it was a good first week, first day for both of them. Very impressive for both of them.”

Bowen, if healthy, could provide a boost to the Redskins‘ sagging pass rush, which has suffered from atrophy because of injury. Hankerson, meanwhile, is a taller receiver who could help shore up the woes in third-down red-zone situations.

“We always want to be out there to help,” Hankerson said. “We always feel like we can do something that’s going to help the team and help your teammates out. I haven’t been out there to practice with the guys for a while, and I missed training camp and OTAs and all that stuff, but I’m just looking forward to being out there today and running around.”

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