It took half a season for wide receiver
After earning a roster spot in 2011 preseason, Stallworth served as a reserve the first nine weeks of the regular season. One of eight wide receivers on the roster, he posted just five passes for 46 yards in that span.
When Hankerson suffered a season-ending hip injury a week later, Stallworth was back.
Stallworth made the most of his second opportunity in Washington.
He played in seven of the Redskins’ final eight games and emerged as a clutch receiver.
His most memorable performance came in Week 11 in a 27-24 overtime loss to the Dallas Cowboys. He caught four passes for 51 yards, and three of the catches were part of a fourth quarter scoring drive.
Stallworth capped the drive with a 4-yard touchdown grab on a fade route to the left corner of the end zone. He had a step on cornerback Alan Ball and leaped up to pull in a
Stallworth saw an increased role on offense in the latter part of the season and finished with 22 catches for 309 yards and two touchdowns.
He reflected on his season in Washington one day after the Redskins’ 2011 season finale.
“It was hard not being able to show what I could do [early on], but after I had an opportunity, everything was back to being fun again,” Stallworth said. “Regardless of how long you have been in this game, as long as you’re able to practice hard and play hard, prepare to win and have fun, then that’s what this game is all about.”
He believed he showed more consistency in the second half of the season and earned the trust of offensive coaches.
“They want to be able to trust you when you go out there,” Stallworth said. “They had faith in me to go out there and make plays when my number was called.”
Stallworth, a 9-year veteran, originally joined the Redskins on a one-year contract last July after stints with New Orleans, Philadelphia, New England, Cleveland and Baltimore. He has 320 career catches for 4,774 yards and 34 touchdowns.
Stallworth, 31, enters the 2012 offseason as an unrestricted free agent again.
He would welcome a return to the Redskins.
“I’m sure they know my interest level is very high as far as coming back,” Stallworth said. “It’s a great organization and a great area. The fans are among the best in the league. I definitely want to come back here.
“I know they’re trying to get younger, so that doesn’t help my case much. If I’m here next year, that would be great. I’m just hoping I can get another opportunity.”
Said offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan: "Donte is great in the meeting rooms and on the field. On game days, he gives people energy. You can see when he catches the ball, he's physical and he's trying to run through people. He was a big difference the last month and a half [of the season]."
Since averaging 53 catches per season from 2004-07, Stallworth has just 41 catches the last four years. He spent the 2009 season out of football after he was suspended by the league for a pedestrian in Miami while driving under the influence of alcohol.
Stallworth still hasn’t fully re-established himself in the NFL yet – he has not started a game since 2008 – but he believes his performance late last season helped get him back on track.
“I would be lying if I said my confidence level was the same as it was [before the suspension], but at the same time I never lost confidence in myself,” he said. “I know what I can do. It’s just a matter of going out and having an opportunity to prove it. The last few games [of last season] have helped out as far as raising my confidence level.”
He added: “I knew coming into [last] season I really had not done anything in the league since 2007, when I was in New England. I just wanted to come out and prove that I can still play. I got my opportunities and I feel like I did that, for the most part.”