It was only 10 short weeks ago that the Redskins were criticized for having too many receivers in training camp. But by the middle of November, injuries and lack of production had taken their toll, causing the Redskins to bring back recently released Donte Stallworth.
His time away from the team amounted to a personal bye week of sorts, in which he was able to get away from the game and catch up on life. But not too far away.
He still checked in on the Redskins-Dolphins game last week.
“I was spending time with my family, but I watched most of it,” he said with a smile. “But I didn’t get a chance to watch all of it because I had to go grocery shopping with my girl. She was having her relatives over, so we went grocery shopping.”
“But I got to watch a good portion of it.”
What he saw from the Redskins’ offense was a dynamite receiving performance by Leonard Hankerson, a friend and teammate that he mentored in the offseason before the draft. What he missed, was seeing Hankerson’s breakout performance cut short by season-ending injury.
“When I first got the news it was because Hank’ went down on IR, and I honestly didn’t hear anything after that,” he said. “I was more concerned about Hank’, more than anything, so I wanted to call him and make sure he was okay.”
Hankerson was okay–in good spirits, even–but his rookie season was over. And his placement on injured reserve opened up a spot for Stallworth’s return.
Stallworth, now in his ninth season, has been a tremendous presence in the locker room, selflessly offering football and life advice to the members of the Redskins’ youth movement. His willingness to teach has opened up time for the team’s other veterans to focus on football, and has molded rookies into professionals.
“That’s huge, to have him back,” safety DeJon Gomes said of Stallworth. “When I saw that he wasn’t gonna be on the team anymore, I was kinda disappointed, just because I learned a lot from him. From training camp until now, I mean, I’m still learning from him.”
For a veteran to help a younger player isn’t that unusual. But for a receiver to mentor a safety–that’s a little more special.
“He’s just a very knowledgeable guy,” Gomes said. “He shares his knowledge with the young guys, and just reaches out to them. We’re from the same area (Great San Francisco Bay area, Calif.), so I can just relate to him. I’m glad to have him back.”
In addition to being a good character guy, the Redskins brought Stallworth back to be a productive receiver. He expects to fit that need, in any role with the team.
“Whatever they ask of me to do, I just gotta try to make the best of whatever opportunities I get,” he said. “Whether it’s one or two or ten, gotta make the most of them. I still have my place here, and I think it worked out the way it was supposed to.”
“I don’t know what that role will be, but hopefully I’ll be in a position to help us win on Sunday.”