Training Camp Primer: A Wide Battle at Receiver

Will 2012 be the year that the highly-touted Leonard Hankerson comes into his own?

Last time, Parks and I took a look at the battle at the safety position going into training camp. Now, I'm going to fly solo and attempt to address the log jam at wide receiver and see who will comprise the 38 or so that make the final cut.

Pierre Garcon

They didn’t give him $42.5 million for nothing. Whether he lives up to it is another story, but Garcon will see his fair share of snaps in the meantime. Though inconsistent with his hands and his deep game, he has the ability to force missed tackles and the elusiveness to help a mobile quarterback extend plays when one begins to break down. I’m not sure he’ll lead the team in targets this year, but when a guy has the ability to take the top off of the defense, just being on the field makes a big difference.

Santana Moss

Since Shanahan and son have taken control of the offense, Moss has seen his snap count increase significantly while in the slot. About 30 percent of his snaps have been from that position, which is way up from the 11-12 percent when the Zornado was in town. Now that he has more help on the exterior, I’d expect him to stay in that slot role and be a key quick-read for Robert Griffin III as he gets his feet wet in the league. Moss won’t put up the gaudiest of numbers in the twilight of his career, but I have a feeling that the Redskins are going to be very happy they kept him around.

Leonard Hankerson

Ah yes, the chosen one. The youngster with all the promise in the world, who finally came out of his shell and torched a Dolphins defense for over 100 yards last season, and then promptly ends his season with a hip injury. That incident may have been the most Redskins thing ever. But now, Hankerson looks like he will be at full speed when training camp starts, and I believe he will eventually rise to the top of the depth chart. He is a fearless, natural, receiver across the middle who can also use his big build and hands to beat deep coverage as well. Health permitting, he will be a big part of the offense this year. Maybe not early on, but I would be shocked if he was not an important cog by season’s end.

Joshua Morgan

Injuries have always been his own worst enemy, but when Joshua Morgan has been healthy, he’s been a decent playmaker. Like Garcon and Moss, Morgan can make guys miss but he’s also been guilty of having a case of the dropsies. Obviously though, it comes down to what Shanahan’s opinion is, and going after him so early in free agency speaks volumes about how he feels about him. Health will ultimately decide how much Morgan sees the field in 2012, and although I can’t wait see what Hankerson’s made of, I think Morgan gets more snaps in the earlygoings if his health allows it.

Anthony Armstrong

I think he ultimately makes the roster, but this is probably going to be his last year doing so. In 2013, Armstrong will be an unrestricted free agent and 30 years old, so you have to wonder how patient a team will be with an aging receiver and a new crop of receivers to choose from in the draft and free agency. But in the short term, Armstrong is coming off of a seven-catch season and may not see five snaps per game going forward despite being known for making a long catch every now and then. The one thing he does have going for him is that the receivers ahead of him aren’t exactly immune to injury, so I wouldn’t be surprised if his field-stretching ability is called upon at some point.

Brandon Banks

Brandon Banks was absolutely awful a season ago, and for him to deserve a spot on the team he has to display his 2010 form over the course of camp and preseason. It would be great to see his elusiveness used in the offense, but Banks’ fumbling issues heavily outweigh anything he could bring to the huddle right now. Because protecting the ball is rule No. 1, Mike Shanahan should have no reason to rush him into a formation anytime soon.

Terrence Austin

Terrence Austin did not start a game last season, but still managed to be on the field for 201 snaps. I don’t think he gets anywhere close to that number this year with the added talent at receiver, but he did show that he can be a serviceable replacement if needed. Factor in that he can also return kicks and punts, and Austin may prove himself capable of a roster spot once again (*cough* over Banks *cough*).

Aldrick Robinson

Yet another burner on the roster, Robinson found himself relegated to a spot on the practice squad with the abundance of receivers already in Washington. It doesn’t look like he’s in a much different situation heading into 2012.

Lance Lewis/Darius Hanks/Brian Hernandez/Sam Kirkland

Camp bodies. Too many people ahead of them right now, and practice spots seem likely for all of the above. Lance Lewis intrigues me the most out of all of these undrafted rookies, but he’s going to have to make a hell of a splash while overcoming a knee injury he suffered late in his senior season.

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