Leonard Hankerson, a third-round draft pick in 2011, spent his first few seasons with Washington. After the Falcons parted ways with veteran Harry Douglas, they brought in Hankerson on a one-year deal. Hankerson spoke to the Atlanta media this week, sharing his thoughts on transitioning to a new team, joining players like Matt Ryan, Roddy White and Julio Jones, and more.
Hankerson's development and productivity in his first three seasons were hindered by injury. According to Hankerson, he's physically ready to go at this point. "Everything is good, man. I'm 100%," Hankerson said. "I've been working really hard, you know, grinding. I mean, I've been 100% for -- I don't know, a couple months now. So everything's good."
The Falcons' high-powered offensive personnel were part of the appeal as Hankerson weighed his options as a free agent. "I mean, it was a great opportunity to come to an offense that I'm very...familiar with," Hankerson said. "A great quarterback in Matt Ryan, and a couple of other receivers on the squad that I'll come and join and have fun and do whatever it takes to win games and to compete."
Hankerson has some familiarity with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, and he said that he expects Shanahan to really make an impact this season with the talent he has to work with on offense. "Kyle, he's a very good coach," Hankerson said. "He knows a whole lot of stuff, and with the players that we have on the squad, that we can go out there and get the job done and have a top five offense."
For Hankerson, his expectations for the role he will play in Atlanta's offense don't revolve around his personal stats. "You know, it's just about going in there and competing with the guys, getting the job done," Hankerson said. "Not me having a personal impact on the game, you know? Just about everybody coming together as a team and doing what we've got to do to win games."
And Hankerson knows he's surrounded by quality receiving talent on the Falcons roster. "I look forward to going in and playing with those guys...Roddy, Julio, Devin -- all of these guys that's on the squad," Hankerson said. "Coach Terry [Robiskie], he's a great coach here. I'm excited about the opportunity."
After missing significant time with various injuries in his first three seasons, Hankerson is looking forward to the opportunity for a fresh start in Atlanta. "I'm excited. I think we have a good thing going here," Hankerson said. "The players, the coaches, everybody's excited, and like I said earlier, it's just about everybody coming together, getting the job done, and going out here winning games, and it's not all about me. It's about the team. And that's what we're going to try to do starting on the sixth, is everybody working out and having fun and setting everybody's mindset to one thing, and that's winning games."
I asked Hankerson for his perspective on playing with quarterback Matt Ryan, and Hankerson cited Ryan's experience and work ethic as reasons he's glad to have him for a teammate. "Matt Ryan, he's a great quarterback. I'm excited about the opportunity to go and play with him," Hankerson said. "He's been in the league a long time as well. I mean, I'm pretty sure I could learn a whole lot from him and his other receivers, and I'm going there to do what I've got to do, work hard each and every day, and I'm pretty sure Matt Ryan is doing the same thing, and that's all I can do, but I'm definitely excited to play with him."