- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 22, 2015

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) - New England Patriots wide receiver Leonard Hankerson hasn’t been getting much sleep lately.

The 26-year-old admitted it has been a juggling act to learn a new playbook in New England while also tending to his wife and three children.

“(I’m) trying to get everything down, but it’s going to come,” Hankerson said Tuesday.

The fifth-year wideout was claimed off waivers from the Atlanta Falcons on Dec. 17, giving him only two days to prepare for the Patriots’ game against the Tennessee Titans last Sunday.

“It was a little bit of a scramble,” New England coach Bill Belichick said. “I thought he went in there and did the best he could, but like I said it’s a tough situation. It’s hard to really get a good evaluation of that.”

Hankerson was active Sunday, but didn’t make any catches in New England’s 33-16 victory.

“You can’t play as fast as you want to,” Hankerson said. “You can’t run out of the huddle, run to your spot, look at the defense, because you don’t know what to do.”

Two days into his first full week with the Patriots, Hankerson feels he has a better grasp of the system. He participated in the team’s indoor walkthrough on Tuesday.

“Today, I did much better,” he said. “I’ve had a little more time over the weekend, yesterday.”

Even with more time to process the playbook, Hankerson knows the learning curve will be steep.

New England’s play calls have been notoriously difficult to digest, befuddling the likes of six-time Pro Bowl receiver Chad Johnson during his brief stint with the Patriots in 2011.

“I don’t really think you can (simplify it),” Hankerson said.

Fortunately, he has help in the form of players such as quarterback Tom Brady, wide receivers Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola and the coaching staff.

“All of them,” Hankerson said. “All the receivers, Tom himself, the coaching staff. They’ve all been helpful for me whether it’s meeting before practice, after in the locker room.”

Hankerson got an early taste of success with the Patriots as the team clinched a first-round bye with the win over Tennessee.

“It felt good,” Hankerson said. “We went out there, we got a good win, and that’s a good thing about it.”

New England has already clinched a seventh straight AFC East title, but Hankerson can help them take a step toward locking up the No. 1 seed in the AFC in Sunday’s game against the New York Jets.

That certainly won’t be an easy task with cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie lurking in the Jets’ backfield.

“They’ve got a pretty good team, whether it’s Revis, Cromartie, or (cornerback Buster) Skrine,” Hankerson said. “They play some good ball, so you’ve got to find time to study them and you’ve got to find a whole other time to do our work.”


Online: https://pro32.ap.org/poll and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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