PLEASE NOTE: The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on BaltimoreRavens.com represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Baltimore Ravens' organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors' views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Ravens officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
After spending nearly all of the Ravens’ preseason on the sideline with a hamstring injury, wideout James Hardy will finally have a chance to play in an actual game Thursday night against the Atlanta Falcons.
Whether Hardy makes the Ravens’ final 53-man roster largely hinges on this one performance.
“We just haven’t seen him, and it’s no fault of his own,” Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said Tuesday. “He’s worked really hard to get that hamstring back. The trainers will tell you, he’s been a model citizen in there.
“But, this was a big camp for him and he missed it. So this is his one shot.”
At 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, Hardy cuts an imposing figure.
James Hardy Returns To Practice Right Click for Full Screen Option
When the Ravens signed him in January – before the NFL lockout began in March – Hardy evoked visions of a red-zone threat that could use his massive frame to pluck touchdowns out of the air.
But just a few practices into Ravens training camp, Hardy tweaked his hamstring and has watched ever since. As he did, Anquan Boldin and Lee Evans meshed with quarterback Joe Flacco, and young receivers Torrey Smith, Tandon Doss and David Reed showed signs of development.
The numbers game is going to be difficult to overcome.
“It was one of the toughest things I’ve had to go through, but at this level, you have to be a professional even when times are hard,” said Hardy. “I just wanted to do the best that I could to get back on the field.”
A former second-round draft pick of the Buffalo Bills, Hardy has dealt with injuries for most of his career.
He tore knee ligaments late in his rookie season, missed much of the 2009 campaign with a hamstring injury and was limited in 2010 training camp because of an injured foot. After two seasons in Buffalo, Hardy had only 10 catches to his credit.
Healthy at last, Hardy is looking to take advantage of his opportunity when he takes the Georgia Dome field.
“It was a situation where I just had to work through the injury,” Hardy said. “Unfortunately, it took longer than I expected.
“Now, I’ve got the opportunity I’ve been waiting for. This game is huge for me, and I just want to go out and show what I’m capable of doing. I still know what I can do, so now it’s just time to go out there and do it now that I’m healthy.”