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News & Notes: Leonard Hankerson, James Davis’s Whereabouts, Sean Taylor And More

By ZAC BOYER | zboyer@freelancestar.com

ASHBURN – The catches were more routine and the drops fewer over the previous two days, leading to questions as to whether Leonard Hankerson, the Washington Redskins’ first-year receiver, found a new pair of gloves.

“Nope, same ones,” he said, holding his hands up. “See? They have holes.”

Hankerson, the third-round draft choice out of Miami, has struggled to catch the ball when targeted throughout training camp. He had just one catch against Pittsburgh in Friday’s preseason opener, picking up eight yards, and dropped his other attempt early in the third quarter.

“The thing about Hankerson, the one drop he had, he had one thought in his mind – he’s going to score,” coach Mike Shanahan said. “He doesn’t even think about catching the ball because he does have excellent hands. But sometimes guys with excellent hands will lose their concentration, especially in games, and that’s part of being a rookie.”

Hankerson caught 72 passes for 1,156 yards during his senior season, becoming only the third player in Miami history to surpass 1,000 yards in a season and first to also have 2,000 in his career.

At 6-foot-2, Hankerson and Jabar Gaffney are the team’s tallest receivers. Height can’t be taught, but catching can.

“I realized I can’t make a play without having the ball, so I’ve just got to look the ball all the way in and catch it,” Hankerson said.

Also…

  • The altercation between DeAngelo Hall and Chris Horton did not reach levels of the Michael Westbrook/Stephen Davis fight from 1997. In fact, it didn’t offer much – the two tangled, fell to the ground and had to be separated by teammates, providing more of a wrestling match than a full 12-round fight.It also apparently was nothing to Hall, who said he’s been in similar situations before. “That wasn’t much as nothing,” Hall said. “I’m used to drag-down, all-out type of brawls, so that was just a teaser. In Atlanta, we used to get down. We used to riot out there.”

    Shanahan dismissed their spat as just two competitive players reaching the peak of their emotions on the final day of training camp. These fights, however, typically involve one offensive player and one defensive player – certainly not two on the same side of the ball and two in the secondary.

  • With regards to the last day of camp, the mood around Redskins Park was favorable. “CAMP BREAKS” was even written in large letters on the bottom of the whiteboard near the locker room. “This camp was obviously a little bit unusual,” Shanahan said, alluding to the lockout. “The same number of days, but a lot of guys that have come in are not getting a chance to practice until seven days into it. It was a little bit unusual, but I think we got a lot done and I was very pleased with the effort and the mindset and guys really approached it right away.”
  • The saga with reserve running back James Davis has taken an interesting twist, with Shanahan stating that Davis is currently in Atlanta, will not return to the team and speculating he “is retired from football.”The 5-foot-11, 218-pound Davis, in his third year out of Clemson, did not play in Friday’s preseason victory over Pittsburgh and did not show up to practice on Monday. He and Ryan Torain, currently out with a broken left hand, were the only running backs left over from last season. In the meantime, the Redskins drafted Roy Helu and Evan Royster, signed undrafted free agent Shaun Draughn and traded for Tim Hightower.

    Davis tweeted Friday morning that he was unhappy with rumors that prevailed about his departure, which included reports he fought an assistant coach. (That rumor is untrue, according to people with knowledge of Davis’ situation.) “Please do not believe everything you [hear] people,” Davis posted. “The story will be released soon. The real truth of the story.”

    And not that I’ve been around Shanahan for all of two weeks, but I found his light-hearted take on the situation humorous. He reminisced about the old days of camp, when roster sizes weren’t restricted to 90 players. “It used to be – you had 130 guys in camp, 140, and we had 145,” Shanahan said. “We’d have a bunch of guys leave in the middle of the night. That used to be the norm. You’d wake up and two guys were gone. Where did they go? That was this situation. We came in here and what they said were his clothes were gone. All those rumors and speculation you hear are not always the truth, but he was gone in the middle of the night.” Then, when asked if he was fined for not reporting, Shanahan smiled. “Well, let’s say that he could get fined $20,000 for missing a day. I think he’s made maybe $1,500, so when you add that up, that’s not good.”

  • Injury roll call: Linebacker London Fletcher missed practice with a strained groin, though his streak of 208 consecutive games played is not in jeopardy. Cornerback Josh Wilson also missed practice with either a hamstring or groin pull, and safety Oshiomogho Atogwe sat out again because of his hamstring injury. Torain was at practice and scheduled to see a specialist Tuesday night, while Chris Cooley (left knee) was not in attendance.
  • Today offered my first opportunity to speak to Atogwe, who is widely considered amongst the most intelligent, intellectual players. He first asked that I address him as Oshiomogho (that’s oh-SHIM-ago, for those keeping track) and also asked a bit about who I was. I’m preparing a story on the safeties for tomorrow that I needed to talk to him for, but then our conversation drifted to Sean Taylor. Atogwe has always worn No. 21, but couldn’t because of Taylor, who was killed while trying to fight off a botched burglary attempt of his home in 2007.“I know he’s meant a lot to the team,” Atogwe said. “He’s meant a lot to me, personally. I was a big fan of the late Sean Taylor. He was one of the great safeties to play the game. Athletically talented. There wasn’t a thing he couldn’t do on the field and he loved playing. You’ve got to admire that type of individual and that type of man, so I know he meant a lot to this organization just because of how good a person he was. To come into this situation, I definitely pay homage to him and definitely honor his memory.”
  • Brian Orakpo was asked about the readiness of the Redskins to proceed into the second game of the preseason and toward the regular season given the hectic schedule of the past two weeks and the pause generated by the lockout over the previous five months. “That’s the disadvantage of this whole lockout stuff that we went through,” Orakpo said. “Guys have to pick up stuff at a faster pace than we did. When the coaches first got here, we were in the books in March and they had three weeks to do what we did in that whole offseason. It’s going to be tough, but that’s what it’s all about, man. Every team around the league is doing it, so we’ll see what they’re all about.”
  • I picked a great weekend to officially move to Washington. Despite a few complications, and rain, nothing happened around Redskins camp except for the release of kicker Shayne Graham, who missed two field goal attempts against Pittsburgh on Friday. It was apparent Graham, the 10-year veteran out of Virginia Tech, would be released when Shanahan said after the game he’d make a decision and “share it with you guys once we make a decision on what we’re going to do.” As for any competition for Graham Gano, who made three field goals and an extra point Friday, Shanahan said they’ll continue to scour the available players for a good fit.
  • One interesting link: according to Jason LaCanfora of the NFL Network, the Redskins are approximately $11 million under the salary cap. That’s close to the league average at this point, but one thing worth nothing: if this were 2013, the Redskins would not qualify for the salary floor at this point.

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