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Redskins sort out WR roles with Leonard Hankerson's return

ASHBURN, Va. -- Leonard Hankerson isn’t sure what to expect, and that’s not surprising. The Redskins aren’t sure exactly what’s going to happen either now that they have another receiver in the rotation.

Hankerson will play his first game this season on Sunday, after missing the first nine thanks to ACL surgery last December. Now that he’s back, the Redskins have seven receivers (unless they opt to release one of them to make room for nose tackle Barry Cofield’s return this week).

And that means someone will get less playing time. Clearly it won’t be any of the top three wideouts -- DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon and Andre Roberts. It's hard to imagine much changing with how they've been used and how many targets they receive. If Hankerson is comfortable in the offense, he provides the Redskins a receiver who can run routes from various positions and, at 6-foot-2, he's also their tallest. His blocking isn’t bad, either.

It could be -- and should be, if he’s right -- that Hankerson plays ahead of Santana Moss and even Ryan Grant. It’s hard to see how Aldrick Robinson would be active with Hankerson around if he couldn’t be without him on the roster.

“It’s a tough deal,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “The receiving room is very full, and they’re all very good. Santana can be productive in a lot of offenses. Same with Aldrick, and now you throw Leonard into the mix, and he’s another one [who] is a big receiver that has great hands and runs good routes. So, how we are going to use him, I don’t know yet.”

Hankerson isn’t worried about that just yet.

“I’ll do what I can to help the team, whatever it is -- whether it’s just standing on the sidelines or dressed,” he said.

Of course, a player in his spot wants to play as much as possible. Hankerson is in the final year of his contract. He needs to show the rest of the NFL that he’s healthy and can still play. But considering he’s played in 30 NFL games and missed 27, Hankerson won’t be in line for a big deal anyway. He has 81 career receptions and six touchdowns.

“That’s all individual stuff,” he said. “I’m not really caring about something individual. It’s all about wins and losses.”

For Gruden, and quarterback Robert Griffin III, it’ll be about keeping this group happy.

“It’s better to have too many than not enough,” Gruden said. “I’m sure it’s frustrating for those guys who aren’t getting the touches and sometimes it’s frustrating for guys who are playing that aren’t getting enough touches. Touches will come for everybody, but we’ve just got to manage it the best way, and we don’t know how that’s going to be yet.”