As we count down the days to training camp, Around the League will examine one player from every team set for a breakout campaign in 2012. We've wrapped up the AFC. Now to the NFC, where we next visit the Washington Redskins.
Leonard Hankerson set for sophomore jump
High expectations have been heaped on Robert Griffin III, but most of the talent surrounding him on offense is unproven. In some cases, total unknowns. That alone should temper some of the hype.
The jury is out on Pierre Garcon as a No. 1 wideout, but the Redskins are sold, paying him $42.5 million over five seasons. For Garcon to produce, defenses must believe the rest of this receiving group poses some sort of a threat.
Santana Moss has an early jump on the No. 2 spot -- and we've heard whispers he could compete with Garcon for No. 1 -- but Washington is going to lean on second-year man Leonard Hankerson to build on the late-season work he produced as a rookie.
Before he was lost with a hip injury, Hankerson gained the confidence of the Redskins coaching staff through his performance in practice and two intriguing starts. In the second of those, we saw Hankerson tear up the Miami Dolphins with eight catches for 106 yards.
Hankerson has been mentioned as an option at the slot. This used to hint at less production, but Wes Welker and Victor Cruz prove inside receivers can change a team's fortunes. The Redskins aren't shifting away from Mike Shanahan's moving-pocket attack, but the coach acknowledged he'll shape the offense to fit RG3's unusual gifts.
Griffin was highly accurate at Baylor and used the weapons around him. All Redskins wideouts should see a boost with the rookie QB at the controls, but Hankerson, especially, could see his career altered by RG3's arrival. Hankerson's not a household name here in June, but riding Griffin's coattails could thrust him into the lights.