Atlanta Falcons: WR Justin Hardy set for big year per position coach
After catching 21 passes in each of his past two season, Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Justin Hardy is ready to break out according to position coach Raheem Morris
A fourth-round pick in 2015 out of Eastern Carolina, wide receiver Justin Hardy has been a pleasant surprise for the Atlanta Falcons. As a rookie he brought in 21 passes for 194 yards as a rookie, but never crossed the goal line. He remedied that by scoring four touchdowns in his second season in which he also caught 21 passes but went for 203 yards.
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Neither season was bad, and Hardy showed a lot of improvement in year two. He had the same number of catches as his freshman year, but did so with less targets. He also added more yards per reception.
According to wide receiver coach Raheem Morris, the improvements should continue for Hardy as he enters his third season with the franchise.
"“I’m really proud of how Hardy has developed throughout the process of being here,” Morris said via Kelsey Conway of the Atlanta Falcons official website. “He’s going to be one of those guys to get big time opportunities to get out there when he can.”"
With Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu locking down the outside receiver spots, Hardy will need to prove his worth working in the slot. Currently he’s behind speedster Taylor Gabriel in that regard. Gabriel was phenomenal as he averaged 16.5 yards per reception and scored six receiving touchdowns. He also added a boost as a runner, going for 51 yards and another score.
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Hardy is less of a deep threat than Gabriel, as evidenced by his 4.56 second time in the 40-yard dash. What he does well though is work in space and has solid hands. Should he really be given big opportunities like Morris says, expect Hardy to make the most of that.