by Justin Byram
The Washington Redskins have now reported for training camp, but not everyone is quite ready to participate yet. Defensive ends Jason Hatcher and Stephen Bowen will both open training camp on the PUP list (Physically Unable to Pperform); joining them on the PUP list will be Wide receiver Leonard Hankerson.
All three players are recovering from knee injuries, however, each is in different stages of their recovery.
Jason Hatcher is probably the closest to returning to action, but the Washington Redskins aren’t taking any chances on their biggest defensive addition, and he will return when he is 100% ready. Head coach Jay Gruden was optimistic Hatcher would play at some point during camp. “He’s being monitored closely by Larry [Hess], our trainer, and as soon as they see fit, he’ll be ready to go. But we want to make sure he’s obviously ready to go.”
Hankerson suffered a nasty ACL injury in 2013, and with the receiver depth the team has there is no reason to rush Hankerson back before he’s fully ready. However, Hankerson was seen doing conditioning workouts, running and cutting, so it seems that Hankerson is recovering well.
Stephen Bowen is the most interesting situation. Bowen underwent microfacture surgery this off-season and is fighting to prove that he can still be effective and worth his high cap number (he is the fifth highest paid player on the roster). The longer Bowen is out of camp, the less likely he is to make the team. Bowen is in the most danger of losing his job/roster spot, so he will be the player to watch closest throughout camp.
The cornerback position will be at full strength to start training camp with Tracy Porter and Richard Crawford Jr. being cleared for all football activities. Porter was expected to be fully recovered from an off-season shoulder surgery, however Crawford is a bigger surprise to be fully ready to go this early in camp.
Crawford suffered a nasty knee injury, tearing just about every ligament in his knee last pre-season. Crawford was playing his best football before going down, and if he can return to form he will be an asset to the Redskins not only in coverage but in the return game.
It is also worth noting that although he didn’t come out and say it, Jay Gruden implied that Bowen and Hankerson are far behind Hatcher. Gruden confirmed that he expected Hatcher to return to action sooner than later, but when asked about Bowen and Hankerson he wouldn’t commit saying: “I never like to try to make predictions on when guys are going to come back”.