WaPo: Redskins rookie WRs compete for few roster spots

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Lanky Livingston

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Love Hankerson's work ethic. That & the fact that he was a 3rd round pick will get him a spot on the team with no problem, I think.
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Once again, Leonard Hankerson was among the last players off the practice field at Redskins Park. While teammates walked toward the locker room, the rookie wide receiver made a beeline toward the Jugs machine and waited his turn.

On Wednesday, he caught 60 balls after practice, each spit out of the machine like a leather rocket. The day before he caught 85 and on Monday 60.

“In practice, you’re only catching three to five balls a day. That's not enough balls,” Hankerson said. “So this helps.”

For young wide receivers eager to earn one of the few roster spots with the Redskins, every little bit helps. The receivers each report a new comfort level after playing one preseason game and hope for bigger things when Washington plays at Indianapolis on Friday night.

“That first game is out of the way now, so all the rookie jitters should be gone,” said Aldrick Robinson, the sixth-round pick from SMU. “You feel more comfortable going into this next week because you know the game speed, you know to prepare yourself more.”

Facing a tight battle at a crowded position, the young wideouts know it’s not just every game that counts — it’s every single pass thrown their way.

The Redskins drafted three wide receivers in April — Hankerson, Robinson and Niles Paul — and signed undrafted rookie Isaac Anderson. None is a lock for the 53-man roster, and each has to impress coaches in these next three preseason games. Even Hankerson, a third-round pick from the University of Miami, has no guarantees. In 2005, Coach Mike Shanahan cut his third-rounder, troubled running back Maurice Clarett, in Denver at the end of preseason.

The Redskins will likely keep five or six wide receivers. If they opt for the latter, that sixth receiver could double as a specialist responsible for returning punts and kickoffs. Brandon Banks, whose ailing knee has put his status in question, Terrence Austin and Robinson could be the front runners for that role.

With Santana Moss, Anthony Armstrong and Jabar Gaffney locking down three slots, the remaining eight wide receivers are essentially fighting for just a couple of jobs.

If the team keeps Donte’ Stallworth, a ninth-year veteran who has impressed in practice, that would mean the young receivers are essentially battling for a single roster spot.

“You can’t worry about that,” said Paul, the fifth-round pick from Nebraska. “I was always taught, just make the most of the opportunity. So what little reps I get, I want them to be perfect, want them to be right.”

But with passes spread among nearly a dozen receivers in practice, each mistake is especially glaring — and there were several in the team’s first preseason game.

Seven receivers caught passes in the Redskins’ win over Pittsburgh last Friday. The rookies saw the bulk of their action in the second half. Hankerson was targeted three times, caught one ball for eight yards and dropped another. Paul had a 16-yard catch in the third quarter, and Robinson was targeted once — a short route in the fourth quarter — but failed to notch a reception. Robinson’s most notable contribution to the preseason opener was muffing two punt returns.

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ntotoro

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He caught 60 out of how many? ;)

I keed, I keed...

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Bulldog

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Let's try and remember that the Redskins won all of 6 games last season. The idea that there are few jobs that are open is really a joke.

It's great that we have a 5'7 returner in Banks who seems to have chronic knee problems as well as retread vets like Stallworth and Gaffney that are short-timers.

But the Redskins need to keep and develop some of the younger players who may need some time but have upside. This all isn't about 2011, a season where Washington is not expected to be a contender.

Hankerson, Paul, Austin...we need to do more than go with retreads over 30 and specialists whose skills are diminished by the new rules changes.
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The Squire

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This may not be a popular thing to say, but I'm not totally sold on Armstrong. Seemed to me like last year what he did was just fly down the field. And I'm not knocking that, he was great at what he did. But I don't think he's as complete a receiver as say Santana Moss or even what I think Austin could be.

But I mean we keep hearing about Beck at 30 years old just never got an opportunity. And now he may get one. But Armstrong is 28 years old, and I wonder why did he bounce around various pro leagues for four or five years? Did it finally click for him last year? Was it that he finally got his opportunity and that was the start of something special? Or was last year a fluke?

I mean I think he's a lock at #3 to start the season, but I'll watching him with some suspicion this season. I certainly he proves me wrong.
 

Goaldeje

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I hold some of those concerns as well, Squire. I kinda figure in an ideal world, Armstrong would be our third WR, maybe even fourth. But while the youngins are developing, I think having him around is not a bad idea at all. I'm not sure his potential ceiling is a lot higher than what we saw last year, though as you said, I hope he proves me wrong.
 

fansince62

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hey......30 isn't ancient! whoever performs gets the nod in my book.
 

Bulldog

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if the choice was cutting Hankerson because we had Wes Welker or Miles Austin that would be one story.

but the truth is the Redskins don't have premiere veteran talent on the roster.

Stallworth wasn't retained by the Cleveland Browns, a team like Washington with limited offensive talent heading into the offseason.

Gaffney was acquired for a guy in Jarmon that most likely would have been released at the end of camp because he didn't fit in the 3-4. Gaffney has been bouncing around the league for the past few years.

So, those are the players you want to keep at the cost of developing someone you think has much greater upside and spent a high draft choice on?

Not many teams in the NFL build a contender over time making those types of decisions :)
 

Burgundy Burner

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I think we will keep 6 WRs on the roster and this is how I think it will take shape.

The three starters...
Santana Moss
Jabar Gaffney
Anthony Armstrong

4th receiver...
Donte Stallworth

Remaining two:
Leonard Hankerson
Terrence Austin

Kick/Punt Returner...
Brandon Banks

Practice squad...
Niles Paul
Aldrick Robinson

Released...
Malcolm Kelly
Isaac Anderson

Jabar is a 60 catches per year receiver. That is good production. Armstrong is the deep threat and can provide 40 to 50 catches. We know about Moss. Stallworth is a great option as the 4th receiver and Hankerson could see increased playing time/production as the season progresses. That is a good group of receivers imho.

Banks will stay based on his return skills - it is difficult to ignore his impact on special teams.

Niles Paul is a good long term project. Ditto for Austin. Robinson is nothing more than practice squad fodder. Isaac Anderson is a body in camp.

Malcolm Kelly is nice guy, but he will never be a reliable option for any team - I hate Vinny for that draft in '08. I took a lot of jawing at the other place for wanting one receiver only that year - Jordy Nelson. Just saying.
 

Lanky Livingston

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That's 7 WRs BB. Someone out of Stallworth, Banks, Austin & Hankerson will be cut. I think Hankerson is safe based on potential & draft position, leaving Stallworth, Banks and Austin competing for 1-2 spots. Personally, I hope they go with youth and keep Austin & Banks; Stallworth is 30 & is a known quantity. He's not going to have some epihany and catch 60 balls for a grand and 8 TDs this year.
 

Bulldog

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Banks needs to go. His knee seems to be an ongoing issue and he is the most one-dimensional player in the NFL.
 

Boone

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Let's try and remember that the Redskins won all of 6 games last season. The idea that there are few jobs that are open is really a joke.

It's great that we have a 5'7 returner in Banks who seems to have chronic knee problems as well as retread vets like Stallworth and Gaffney that are short-timers.

But the Redskins need to keep and develop some of the younger players who may need some time but have upside. This all isn't about 2011, a season where Washington is not expected to be a contender.

Hankerson, Paul, Austin...we need to do more than go with retreads over 30 and specialists whose skills are diminished by the new rules changes.
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I've heard you focus on keeping younger talent (even if it's not currently productive) Bulldog, and I agree with that general philosophy.

Just a comment on the 6 win thing - I heard someone on ESPN Radio this morning mention that in '14 of 16 regular season games last year, the Redskins either had the lead in the 4th quarter or were driving for a tying score in the 4th quarter'. His point was, not that 'almost' counts for anything as I'm sure someone is about to shove down my throat :) His point was that we were better even last year than our 6 wins indicated, and that we've added some really nice talent on the lines and elsewhere and seem to building a team the right way for a change.

I found those comments very encouraging.
 

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